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Canadian food and agtech innovator finalists announced for $1M pitch competition


September 20, 2019
By Potatoes in Canada

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Eight Canadian food and agtech companies have been revealed as finalists for the Nutrien-Radicle Challenge, a two day pitch competition for ag and food technology innovation where a $1 million USD investment will be made in the winning idea.

Radicle Growth, an acceleration platform for early-stage ag and food technologies, revealed the eight Canadian-based entrepreneurs who will compete at the pitch day competition in Saskatoon on October 1-2, 2019. One growth-stage company will receive $1-million USD in funding and an early-stage company will receive $250,000 USD.

More than 100 Canadian agriculture and food technology businesses submitted proposals, with four companies selected as growth-stage finalists and four earning a spot in the early-stage competition.

Mark Thompson, chief corporate development at Nutrien, spoke to how providing funding and strategic support to the winners of the competition will allow Canadian companies to produce agricultural solutions that will help growers in Canada and around the world.

The competition will identify and invest in Canadian entrepreneurs that are solving ag and food challenges with technology at both the growth-stage (companies that have already raised $3 million USD in prior investment) and early-stage level (companies that have raised a minimum of $100,000 USD in investment capital, in-kind capital, or have gone through an incubator or accelerator program).

The finalists chosen to compete in October “represent the full spectrum of agriculture,” according to Radicle, “from input development to innovative data and crop management technologies to food safety and distribution systems.”

The finalists in the $1-million USD growth-stage category are:

  • FarmLead, Ottawa – A marketplace that enables grain farmers and buyers to prospect, negotiate, and execute grain deals within a trusted network.
  • Renaissance Bioscience, Vancouver – A bioengineering company that uses yeast as a platform microbe to create valuable industrial products for commercial partners.
  • P&P Optica, Waterloo, Ont. – A food processing technology provider that leverages hyperspectral imaging to detect foreign objects and assess food quality.
  • Terramera, Vancouver – A developer of high-performance natural alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers that has pioneered a method to target active ingredients to cellular delivery.

The finalists in the $250,000 USD early-stage category are:

  • First Pass Technologies, Calgary – Uses machine learning to optimize route selection within a farm by integrating into existing, embedded guidance hardware supplied by equipment manufacturers.
  • Livestock Water Recycling, Calgary – Segregates and concentrates manure nutrients into two valuable fertilizer products while recycling clean water for reuse.
  • Motorleaf, Montreal – Uses artificial intelligence to make precise and automated yield forecasts for commercial hydroponic greenhouses.
  • Precision.ai, Saskatoon  – Builds artificially intelligent drones that autonomously survey fields in real-time to recognize plant growth and spot-spray weeds with surgically targeted micro-doses.

Each finalist will present to a panel of judges and industry leaders, and the winners will be announced at 2 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2019.

In addition to the capital infusion, the winners will have access to the Radicle and Nutrien platforms to accelerate development of their technologies.


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