Spectra Plasmonics


Spectra Plasmonics (Kingston) is perfecting a helpful safety tool for the food and beverage industry.

What they’re doing: Spectra is reworking their successful drug chemical analysis equipment to create biotechnology-based bacteria sensing tests for food producers to assess the quality of their products.

How will this be used in the real world? Commercial kitchens and plants can get on-site, quick and accurate results on the safety of their food before it gets sent out to customers, lessening the chances of food-related illnesses and product recalls.

Escarpment Labs


Escarpment Labs (Guelph) supplies cutting-edge yeast strains to craft brewers.

What they’re doing: This company of brewers, scientists and fermentation enthusiasts uses genomics technology to create unique liquid brewing yeast and dry yeast for both professional and homebrewers to produce exceptional beverages.

How will this be used in the real world? Escarpment is already supporting the craft beverage industry in Canada, US and Europe with their yeasts that add next level flavour to brews and ensure easier fermentation during the beer making process. 

Performance Plants Inc.


Performance Plants Inc. (Kingston) is using genetic engineering to produce climate change-resistant crops.

What they’re doing: Their Gene Discovery and Trait Development Platform combines modern and traditional genetic engineering toolboxes to produce higher yielding crops regardless of climate challenges. The modularized technology enables the custom design of crops based on market needs, from single target gene editing to multiple trait stacking. During this project, the goal is to improve production and yield of soybeans, the third largest principal field crop in Canada.

How will this be used in the real world? Successful deployment of this product will benefit Ontario farmers while enhancing the economic output of Canadian agriculture.

Liven Proteins


Liven Proteins (Toronto) is producing animal-free protein ingredients for the food industry.

What they’re doing: They’re using unique precision fermentation technology to produce animal-free collagen in yeast from plant-based raw material for the functional beverages market. Liven plans on scaling up this technology to produce sufficient samples for validation by customers.

How will this be used in the real world? Producing collagen ingredients to provide affordable, and sustainable solutions to make delicious and nutritious food and beverage products without the need of the animal industry.

Index Biosystems


Index Biosystems (Burlington) is working on BioTag technology to make food products safer and cut down on food recalls by verifying sustainability, product quality and source-of-origin.

What they’re doing: BioTags are microscopic fingerprints made from baker’s yeast that are applied directly to products to track them. They’re primarily used to verify sustainability, product quality, place-of-origin and food safety. Index Biosystems’s goal is to develop detectable BioTags, methods for their production and identification protocols for successful commercialization.

How will this be used in the real world? BioTags have the potential to dramatically reduce the impact of product recalls in Ontario’s food systems by tracing agri-food products and identifying the source of problems faster. They can also be used to verify the ethical and sustainable sourcing of products.



Ceragen (Kitchener) is helping farmers increase crop yields through microbiome engineering.

What they’re doing: This biotech company is developing probiotics for plants to increase hydroponically grown lettuce, kale, cucumbers, and basil crop yields by 20-30%. The plant growth promoting bacteria in this product helps increase nutrient uptake and improve plants’ response to environmental stress.

How will this be used in the real world? These products have the potential to increase food production in Ontario by at least 36,000 tons, which represents an $83 million annual revenue increase for farmers.

BioFect Innovations


BioFect Innovations (Toronto) has designed a microorganism to mass produce a sugar substitute.

What they’re doing: Due to lack of availability, mass production of the sweetener, brazzein, is not currently possible. But through synthetic biology and precision fermentation, BioFect has designed a microorganism that can produce large quantities of brazzein through a method that is economical, efficient and sustainable.

How will this be used in the real world? Along with the potential to replace/reduce the dependence on traditional sugars in many food products, this technology can make brazzein a key ingredient in eco-conscious food and beverage products.

Leveraging Genomics to Achieve Dairy Net-Zero


The Canadian dairy industry supported $7.5 billion in total net farm cash receipts and $16.8 billion in dairy products in 2021, contributing $35 billion to the national GDP. At the same time, dairy accounts for around 1.2-1.4 per cent of total emissions—primarily via methane and nitrous oxide (36 per cent of all livestock emissions). The industry has committed to a Dairy Net-Zero Pledge by 2050. The project goal is to integrate cutting-edge knowledge in genomics and nutrition to deliver a mitigation roadmap for greenhouse gas (GHG) management in dairy production. This includes a comprehensive farm toolbox which will be used to quantify emissions and apply nutritional and genetic strategies to reduce GHG, as well as to inform policy. The roadmap will allow a 55 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from Canadian dairy (30-40 per cent from nutrition and 30 per cent from genomic strategies) at an estimated value of $338 million, with additional potential reduction in beef. A further $100 million in annual net savings is expected through correlated genetic gain in production efficiency and enhanced animal welfare. The shared roadmap for dairy production will inform and align producers, industry stakeholders and policymakers.

Omics Guided Technologies for Scalable Production of Cell-Cultivated Meat


The demand for dietary protein is growing with the global population. Since intensive beef farming contributes significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere, cell-cultivated meat is emerging as a complementary protein source to meet this increasing demand with potentially a small fraction of the environmental impact. Similar to how yoghurt and beer are made, these products are cultivated directly from biological cells in a nutrient-rich medium in stainless steel bioreactors. Formation of meat-like textures are triggered by seeding cells into organic scaffolds. To reach cost parity with animal-based meat, however, the cultivating process must become more efficient and less expensive. This project will use genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and GE3LS (genomics and its ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social aspects) approaches to address technical, economic and social barriers to scaling and commercialization of cell-cultivated meat in Canadian and export markets while minimizing the carbon footprint of production. It will do so by creating a catalogue of cells grown from tiny muscle biopsies of beef cattle to find the cell types best suited for cultivated meat production. This will make cell-cultivated meat nutritious and affordable, with the potential to incorporate agricultural by-products into certain stages of production. The project will optimize bioreactor conditions for growing large numbers of cells and develop protein scaffolds that replicate the taste and texture of animal meat to produce meat patty and slab meat (steak-like) prototypes. The project will bring academia, industry, government and NGOs together in a Canadian Cultivated Meat Consortium. This collaboration will enable rapid mobilization of new knowledge, resulting in efficient implementation by Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises. This research will also have wider applications in the production of cell-cultivated chicken, fish and seafood.

Bio-Inoculants for the Promotion of Nutrient use Efficiency and Crop Resiliency in Canadian Agriculture-BENEFIT


Many root-associated microbes play an essential role in the way plants extract nutrients from the soil, grow and resist stressors. The BENEFIT project will use genomics to identify Canadian soil microbesexamine their interaction with cereals, brassicas and legumesdevelop strains that interact better with crops, and help improve crop productivity. The project team will also investigate genetic factors within the microbes that help them survive the processes used to manufacture, store and deliver bioinoculants. It will also investigate the economics, environmental impacts and social factors associated with inoculant production, application and uptake. By improving crop nutrition and stress resistance using microbes, the requirement for high fertilizer levels, whose production and usage lead to greenhouse gas emissions, will be significantly reduced.