The startup ecosystem within British Columbia is renowned for its work in sustainability across sectors.
And since we all have to eat, one of the most important areas to manage and optimize resources is in food production and related industries.
That is why the Canadian Food Innovation Network is awarding more than $650,000 to eight food-tech projects, including two based in British Columbia, through the organization’s Innovation Booster Program.
Firms receiving funding include Enhanced Medical Nutritio, RxFood Corporation, Psigryph Inc., and Biofect Innovations.
The theme of CFIN’s funding wave orients around nutrition innovation and food as medicine, according to Dana McCauley, chief executive of the network.
“Personalized nutrition thrives on innovation, offering individuals the tools they need to navigate the complex world of dietary choices and personalized meal plans,” the CEO says. “These eight projects demonstrate Canadian-made solutions that are empowering individuals to optimize their health and well-being by tailoring their diets to suit their individual profiles, promoting a healthier and more sustainable future.”
The global personalized nutrition market size was estimated to be approximately US$11 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD $45B by 2032.
As far as BC-based projects go, Techcouver readers will recognize funding recipient Fresh Prep, who secured $100,000 toboost accessibility of personalized meal programs for specialty diets by developing AI-powered software that enables consumers to plan and execute their nutrition-focused diets affordably.
“At Fresh Prep, our mission is to make eating well effortless and affordable,” says cofounder Dhruv Sood. “With our new AI- powered menu planner, we’ll be taking personalized meal programs to the next level by helping our customers achieve their nutritional goals with customized guidance and flexibility.”
An AI-infused menu planner will deliver personalized nutritional guidance alongside the convenience of meal kit deliveries. According to Sood, Fresh Prep’s ability to blend personalization and convenience has them on track to become the sole Canadian meal provider with the technology to offer customized meals without inflating expenses.
“We believe the unique blend of customization and convenience this technology offers will set us apart in the meal kit industry,” the co-CEO added, “while revolutionizing the way Canadians approach their diets and mealtime routines.”
Fresh Prep earlier this year acquired Vancouver-based surplus grocery delivery service Peko.
The other BC project receiving funding from CFIN is Cronometer Software, which is upgrading its current app with artificial intelligence technology to launch an AI Food Suggestions feature that will provide tailored suggestions based on individual user needs, assisting users in meeting their specific daily calorie and nutrient targets.
The AI Food Suggestions project is designed to cater uniquely to each user, generating recommendations based on factors such as recently logged foods, selected filters (high- protein, vegetarian) and categories, and dietary restrictions.
“AI Food Suggestions are going to be a game changer for our users,” asserts Cronometer CEO Aaron Davidson, “and we’re thrilled to be partnering with the Canadian Food Innovation Network to implement this powerful new functionality.”
CFIN’s Innovation Booster provides funding and support to small and medium businesses to help them accelerate product development, overcome innovation hurdles, and validate market fit.
“Our government is proud to invest in value-driven organizations to enable cutting-edge Canadian companies to grow their businesses, create well-paying jobs and expand their horizons,” stated François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “The recipients of the Innovation Booster Program highlight the importance of leveraging technology to provide accessible nutritional guidance, keeping Canadians informed to optimize their health.”
In total, 37 Canadian food-tech companies have received more than $3M from the Booster program since 2021, including several from BC.
“Investments in functional food innovations are driving sustainability and increasing access to healthy and nutritious products for Canadians,” said the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in Canada, Lawrence MacAulay. “Canada is a world leader in the growing food-tech sector and these projects will help maximize the relationship of food and health through innovation”