The startup ecosystem within British Columbia is renowned for its work in sustainability across sectors.
One of the most important areas to manage and optimize resources is in food production and related industries. Everybody will always need to eat, so this remains a critical area to find sustainable and innovate practices for.
Many BC startups have long been taking on a wide range of issues connected to an overall mission of innovating food systems for growth, resilience, and sustainability—now, and indefinitely into the future.
It’s why Techcouver covers Canada’s food systems disruptors, and why organizations such as the Canadian Food Innovation Network fuel the ecosystem: to highlight and empower those improving the Canadian food sector.
Through the Innovation Booster, the CFIN recently invested in two BC-based projects, among other Canadian companies.
“These startups are developing novel processes, creating first-to-market technologies, and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing our food sector,” CFIN chief executive Dana McCauley stated of the batch of funding recipients. “Food innovation is thriving across the country and we’re extremely excited about the global potential of these projects.”
One local firm receiving capital is Freshline, which is building out the core functionality of its emerging B2B e-commerce platform. The company’s project is boldly titled “Innovating the Global Food Distribution Supply Chain.”
The platform will enable food distributors and retailers to transact online in ways that were not previously possible, according to the BC startup. Improvements include a turnkey integration management tool that allows suppliers to connect their ERP, accounting, inventory, or operations management platform to Freshline via API, webhooks, or FTP.
Food distributors in Canada and the US will also get access to software that streamlines and automates manual sales and operations work, the founders say.
“We’re very optimistic on our ability to use these funds to further advance the Canadian innovation landscape and are grateful to have this support,” Freshline CEO Robert Kirstiuk stated.
The other project CFIN funded is from Cibotica, who is developing a “Universal Food-Safe Dispensing Mechanism for Food Makelines.”
Cibotica is working on a food-safe version of a universal dispensing mechanism and associated control algorithms to be used in their robotic salad and bowl makeline.
“Thanks to the funding from the Canadian Food Innovation Network, we are able to optimize our universal ingredient dispensing and portioning technology,” stated Cibotica co-CEO Souroush Sefidkar.
“This support will expedite the commercialization of our robotic makeline, which has the potential to solve the most prominent pain points and inefficiencies in the restaurant industry,” the founder said.
The BC-based food-tech company has developed an ingredient-agnostic dispensing mechanism.
This technology is capable of dispensing most ingredients regardless of their shape, size, and preparation method, Sefidkar says.
The successful completion of this project will optimize the speed, accuracy, and reliability of the robotic salad and bowl makeline used in many food service environments, leading to “significant increases in productivity and efficiency,” according to the team behind Cibotica (pictured).
The Innovation Booster fuels the ecosystem from all angles.
For example, CFIN invested in Cascadia Seaweed, located in Sidney near Victoria, which seeks to extend the shelf-life of fresh seaweed while developing and scaling processes that can help Canada produce more value-added innovative seaweed products for international markets.
Cascadia was awarded $73,000 in 2022 to continue efforts.