Guelph to host new agri-food accelerator

Dana McCauley has been working to launch Accelerator Guelph since she joined the Research Innovation office at the University of Guelph late last year. (John Greig photo)

The University of Guelph has created a new organization to help launch agri-food ideas and innovations.

Accelerator Guelph aims to provide business training, help create networks and provide a process to innovators in agriculture and food at the university.

Why does it matter? Getting research and great ideas from university researchers to the market has been a challenging process. The University of Guelph has many examples of innovations that have had significant impact on farming, but it believes more can be done.

Accelerator Guelph was launched during an innovation showcase Friday in Guelph that highlighted innovation in agriculture and food at the university.

“Our researchers have bold, ambitious ideas, and their work addresses gaps and helps solve problems while shaping the future of food and agriculture in Canada and beyond,” said Malcolm Campbell, the university’s vice-president for research.

The four-phase accelerator program will provide business planning, executive leadership training, financial and accounting expertise and human resources management.

The university has licensed the successful Waterloo accelerator system which includes a tool that helps innovators through feasibility of their ideas, said Dana McCauley, associate director of new venture creations in the University of Guelph’s Research Innovation Office.

The Research Innovation Office has been reorganized; the Catalyst Centre, which was created to transfer technology from the university to the market, has been moved into the reorganized office.

“The real magic of our program isn’t that we are bootcamping these academics through entrepreneurial training, but it will come later,” McCauley said.

“My job is to create a big enough network that I can take these proven concepts that do have good leadership and pair them with more traditional entrepreneurial people.”

Researchers don’t need to be CEO material, she said, but there has to be a process for them to get their great ideas to the market.

A pilot cohort, involving six ideas the Research Innovation Office is using to test the Accelerator Guelph concept, has been identified. The cohort includes:

  • Ibrahim Deiab and team are designing a low-cost additive manufacturing solution, like a 3D printer, for metals or bio-consumables made from agricultural waste that can produce manufacturing parts with reasonable accuracy. The effect will be to reduce down time in food and other factories and make it much easier run plant trials and test innovative new ideas.
  • Amberley Ruetz and Leah Blechschmidt are starting their business with a consumer insight. They have identified that schools in Ontario lack nutritionally dense, shelf-stable snacks and they plan to create a product that matches school food guidelines and that students love.
  • Wael Ahmed and his partners at FlorNergia have developed an innovative airlift pump that improves performance and reduces energy usage in aquaponic and aquaculture applications, making sustainable fish farming more viable.
  • Sujeevan Ratnasingham, has created LifeScanner, a kit that can be used to test the DNA of food to ensure against food fraud quickly and affordably.
  • Kevin Piunno, has created a user-centric, modular, easily-adapted growth vessel that is more ergometric and flexible than traditional tools used in biology labs.
  • Mannick Annamalai has created a new free-flowing encapsulated maple powder that will allow consumers and food product developers to do new things with naturally sweet, local maple products.

— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.

malcolm campbell
Snow — every farmer’s least-favourite four-letter word  — hammered southern Saskatchewan and Alberta Sunday night and Monday, shutting down harvest, at least for now. That’s bad news for crop producers because farmers across the Prairies were already behind multi-year averages for harvest progress. Alberta  The latest crop report notes that farmers are 12 per cent behind on harvest, compared to the five-year average, but on par with last year. About 43 per cent of crops were still standing, 33 per cent combined and about a quarter in the swath. Provincially to date, crops are grading as follows: 88 per cent of harvested hard red spring wheat and 85 per cent of durum wheat are grading in the top two grades. About 29 per cent of barley is eligible for malt grade and nearly half is grading as No. 1 feed. Half of oats are grading in the top two grades, which is lower than the five-year average.  Nearly 97 per cent of harvested canola is in the top two grades and 88 per cent graded as No. 1. 21 per cent of dry peas graded as No. 1, 54 per cent as No. 2, 19 per cent as No. 3 and six per cent is feed grade. In the south, a dry growing season has cut crop yields. Nearly three-quarters of the crop is in the bin, eight per cent swathed and 18 per cent still standing. Crop quality is above average for malt barley and the top two grades of hard red spring wheat, durum wheat, oats and dry peas. About 68 per cent of canola is graded as No. 1, lower than the five-year average, while 25 per cent is graded as No. 2. Central Alberta farmers have 22 per cent of the crop in the bin, a quarter swathed, and just over half still standing. Quality for all crops is above the five-year average. About 33 per cent of barley is malt-quality and 37 per cent is grading No. 1 feed. In the northeast, farmers have combined about 15 per cent of crops and swathed 38 per cent. Nearly half is still standing. Crop quality is below average for malt barley, the top two grades of oats and dry peas. About 79 per cent of barley is grading No. 1 feed. About 22 per cent of oats are graded as either No. 1 or 2 and 78 per cent as No. 3. For dry peas, 49 per cent is graded as No. 2, 35 per cent as No. 3 and 16 per cent as feed. Farmers in the northwest have combined 11 per cent of crops and swathed 29 per cent. Sixty per cent of the crop is still standing. Only three per cent of spring wheat is grading No. 1, 86 per cent as No. 2 and 11 per cent as No. 3. No harvested barley is eligible for malt, and 40 per cent graded as No. 1 feed. For dry peas, 17 per cent is graded as No. 2, 57 per cent as No. 3 and 26 per cent as feed grade. In the Peace, only eight per cent of crops are in the bin, 30 per cent swathed and 62 per cent still standing. So far quality is above average for everything but dry peas. About 94 per cent of dry peas are grading No. 2 and six per cent No. 3. Saskatchewan  Saskatchewan’s latest crop report notes that 39 per cent of the crop is in the bin as of Sept. 23, which is well behind the five-year average. Much of it is coming off the field tough. There are many reports of crops bleaching, staining and sprouting. Geese and wildlife are also damaging swathed crops. In the southeast, 40 per cent of the crop is in the bin and another 34 per cent is swathed or ready to straight-cut. Many fields are saturated. The crop report notes damage at the elevator such as sprouting, bleaching and staining, plus ergot in some cereals. Wildlife are also feeding on crops, and localized flooding, hail and strong winds also damaged crop. Farmers in the southwest have combined 58 per cent of the crops and another 15 per cent is ready to straight-cut or swath. There are reports of sprouting and bleaching, plus wildlife damage. Strong winds also damaged crops. In east-central Sask., 20 per cent of the crop is in the bin and nearly half is swathed or ready to straight-cut. Hail severely damaged crops near the end of the month. Sprouting, bleaching, wildlife damage, strong winds and localized flooding are also damaging crops. West-central Sask. farmers have combined 46 per cent of the crop and another 34 per cent is swathed or ready to straight-cut. Sprouting, bleaching and staining are reported. Wildlife and strong winds also damaged crops. In the north-east, 31 per cent of the crop is in the bin and another 57 per cent is swathed or ready to straight-cut. Strong winds caused most of the crop damage. Wildlife damage, sprouting, bleaching and staining have also been reported. Northwestern farmers have combined 23 per cent of the crop. Another 57 per cent is ready to straight-cut or in the swath. Strong winds and hail damaged crops, and wildlife have been feeding. Ergot has been reported in some cereals. Sprouting and bleaching has also been reported. Manitoba Widespread rainfall has limited harvest to one or two days a week, notes the latest Manitoba crop report. Farmers have completed 59 per cent of the harvest, and have wrapped winter cereal seeding. Soybean harvest is underway on early varieties in the central, Interlake and eastern areas. In the southwest, harvest was 55 per cent complete. Unharvested spring wheat is suffering from mildew and sprouting. Beef producers’ feed outlooks have improved as rain has extended the grazing season. They are also anticipating weather-damaged crops will be available as feed. In the northwest, farmers have about 75 per cent of the crop in the bin. There are still late-seeded annuals to be harvested as feed. Producers are waiting for a killing frost to cut additional alfalfa. Beef producers are facing a severe winter feed shortage in some areas. Chopping corn silage has just begun around Dauphin. Central Manitoba farmers have harvested wheat, oats and barley in the Red River Valley and finished 85 per cent of it west of the escarpment. Unharvested cereals are being downgraded due bleaching and sprouting caused by recent wet weather. Silage corn harvest is underway. Some poor corn fields originally destined for grain are being silaged. Soybeans are mature in the Red River Valley. Feed testing is detecting nitrates in some feeds due to dry growing conditions. Rain has improved forage growth and extended the grazing season. In the east, farmers have harvested 65 per cent of the crop. Sprouting and mildew are causing downgrading in spring wheat. Oats are also having mildew issues. Barley not yet harvested is seeing increased head breakage and head loss. Corn silage is about 10 per cent done, with yields from 15 to 18 tonnes/acre. Most pastures are rated as fair or poor, and producers are supplementing feed on pasture. Winter feed supplies are rated as 60 per cent adequate for hay, 80 per cent for straw, 70 per cent for greenfeed and 80 per cent for feed grain. Farmers in the Interlake have harvested 60 to 65 per cent of the crop. Alfalfa seed and corn silage harvest are underway. Alfalfa seed yield is variable, but none will yield as well as last year. There are quality concerns with silage corn where cob formation was minimal. Recent rain has greened up pastures and hay fields, with some producers noting it’s the best they’ve looked all year. Producers are renewing hay and pasture for next year, and rain helped forages seeded this year. More animals are going to market due to feed shortages. Some producers have been able to delay feeding as cattle are still on pasture. Still looking for winter feed? Try the following sources: The Manitoba hay listing. Dedicated Facebook pages such as Manitoba Hay and Feed for Buy/Sell, Hay/Feed for Sale in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, Alberta Hay and Feed Directory and Feed and Forage Wanted For Sale on Facebook. The Hay Exchange, which includes listings from across Canada and the U.S. Websites such as eBrandon and Kijiji.

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Field editor

John Greig

John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia.

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