The BioCreate program is an $11.6-million initiative providing financial and business support to Ontario start-ups in the health, food and agriculture and clean-tech sectors.
BioCreate is funded by Ontario Genomics and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) with the goal of moving the province’s biotechnology scene forward by connecting each highly-vetted company with $150,000 in non-repayable funding, 18 months of business mentorship and access to critical infrastructure. They’ll also get the opportunity to pitch to investors for further funding.
AIMA Laboratories (Hamilton) is speeding up the diagnosis of endometriosis by creating a home test.
What they’re doing: This FemTech company is focusing on women’s health and providing unique solutions to diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of chronic and debilitating pelvic pain and infertility. Because of ambiguous symptoms and pain normalization, it can take 5-12 years for women with endometriosis to get a diagnosis.
How will this be used in the real world? The first blood test for endometriosis that can be done from the comfort of home to give women and their physicians more clarity and a quicker path to diagnosis!
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.
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.
Genecis Bioindustries (Toronto) has engineered a bacteria that breaks down food waste to make cheaper bioplastics.
What they’re doing: Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable polymers that are ideal substitutes for petroleum-based plastics but are too expensive to produce. Genecis is working to improve the performance of bacterial strains used on low-value organic waste to produce cost competitive PHAs.
How will this be used in the real world? Genecis’ engineered strain that produces PHAs has dramatically reduced the cost of making bioplastics by using a zero-cost feedstock, rather than expensive carbon sources.
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.
Kraken Sense (Oakville) is developing new technologies to speed up detection of new and existing variants of different viruses and bacteria to maintain public health and safety.
What they’re doing: Their automated and autonomous qPCR-based pathogen detection system eliminates the need for manual sample processing and they’re working on expanding automated technologies to also identify possible new variants, all in under an hour.
How will this be used in the real world? Future applications include the quick detection of existing and new variants of different viruses (i.e. SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza virus) and bacteria!
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.
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.