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Seeding Innovation in Food Entrepreneurship Investing in Our Regions Agri-Food Sector

LONDON, ON: The historic investment made by FedDev Ontario into the Grove brings together infrastructure, capital, mentorship, training and innovation in agri-food. In addition to FedDev Ontario funding, this project would not be possible without community partners who have rolled up their sleeves to provide wrap-around services to growing food entrepreneurs.

The Grove will provide a unique incubation environment, with shared production and packaging equipment, as well as individual spaces customized for growing food companies. Companies such as LiveFitFoods and the Fritter Shop have already set up at the Grove.

The RH Accelerator adds significant private sector experience to this project. RH Accelerator has created a new private-sector-led fund that will invest growth capital and work with up to 20 early stage innovative agri-tech, food and beverage companies to accelerate them through a 12-month Founders program. This program will offer a milestone-based business planning process combined with one-on-one mentorship and founder-peer learning that results in faster growth and higher probability of success.

An important aspect of this project is it’s regional component. The Small Business Centre and the London Economic Development Corporation have been delivering programs on starting and scaling up food businesses for the past 4 years. Thanks to FedDev Ontario and Libro Credit Union’s generous support, these programs will now be offered across the region, in partnership with regional Small Business Centre’s, and will include a full spectrum of start-up, scale up and mentoring activities.

Libro, a certified B corp has a long history of community building throughout southwestern Ontario. With food sustainability as a core pillar for Libro, they are a perfect partner for the Grove.

Steve Bolton, CEO of Libro, said:

“We are thrilled to partner with like-minded organizations in building a support ecosystem for food and beverage entrepreneurs. Local food accessibility and employment are two areas Libro is focusing its efforts to grow prosperity in southwestern Ontario and this exciting initiative will have tangible impacts in the region.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario]

“Our agriculture and agri-food sectors are critical to the well-being of our population. Southern Ontario’s agri-food producers are playing an important role in supporting Canada’s economic growth and local economic diversification. The FedDev Ontario investment announced today will support London businesses to grow and strengthen this key sector, while creating valuable jobs, and helping our economy build back stronger.

The London Training Centre has a long track record of expertise in food and beverage training and will be a key partner to deliver skills training essential for the growth of this industry. With expertise in food and nutrition science to agri-food technologies and everything in between, Western University and affiliates Brescia, Kings and Huron as well as Fanshawe college will be nurturing the talent necessary to feed the growth of London’s food and Beverage sector.

Quick Facts:

  • London has 100 agri-food companies employing over 7,000 people
  • Maple Leaf Foods is building one of North America’s largest and most technically advanced poultry protein facilities in London.
  • The Grove will transform nearly 100,000 sq.ft at the Western Fair District. Approx. 5,000 sq.ft. is dedicated to incubation space with access to shared production equipment, packaging and storage. The rest is available as acceleration space for growing companies.
  • The Agri-food sector generates 1.2 billion dollars of economic impact for the region.

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Ashley Conyngham

Ashley Conyngham

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