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Accelerating circular businesses across southern Ontario

Forty food and environment businesses will work with COIL to reduce or transform waste

Guelph, Ont., November 25, 2021– Today the Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities Office announced that 40 circular businesses, social enterprises and other organizations will participate in the first cohort of business programs under the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) by the end of December.

This summer, COIL collaborators including Innovation Guelph, 10 Carden Shared Space (10C), the Smart Cities Office and Provision Coalition launched four business funding programs aimed at incubating and accelerating circular businesses, developing new circular products and supporting circular economy innovation within a supply chain.  

“We received a very positive response to our call for applications,” says David Messer, Manager, COIL. “We’re seeing some fantastic local organizations that want to establish or expand their circular practices, and others coming into our region to build out their great ideas within the circular food ecosystem we’ve built here over the last few years. It’s been amazing opening Guelph-Wellington’s circular economy testbed up to companies from across southern Ontario.”

COIL’s first cohort of programs include:

  • Ten scaleup and five start-up businesses are participating in the Activate Accelerator and Evolve Pre-Accelerator programs. These participants will work with Innovation Guelph to grow their businesses to be investor-ready.
  • Twenty-one organizations are participating in the Circulate CoLab, an innovation process where each of five team receives $20,000 to prototype a circular supply chain innovation over 12 weeks. All teams will then compete for an additional $100,000 in funding to scale their idea up. Several teams are developing or testing new technologies to help reduce food waste or upcycle food waste into new products.
  • Six companies ranging from large processors to local farms are participating in the Re(PURPOSE) Incubator, a program that provides expert consulting from Provision Coalition to help companies develop new ways to turn food waste into new circular products and collaborations.

As with Our Food Future, also run by the Smart Cities Office with a mandate to create Canada’s first modern circular food economy in Guelph and Wellington County, COIL programs focus on creating social, economic, and environmental benefits. Several social enterprises are participating in COIL programs to develop innovative ways of addressing access to nutritious foods for people experiencing food insecurity.

COIL Advisory Council of Industry Experts

Along with local collaborators like 10C, Innovation Guelph and Provision Coalition, COIL has convened an expert advisory council of industry leaders that are providing guidance on funding decisions as well as the overarching COIL initiative strategy. All advisory council members are volunteering their time and expertise in a personal capacity.

“We feel very fortunate to have this team of people with exceptional talent and expertise to help guide our programming and look forward to learning from them as this work unfolds,” adds Messer.

Advisory council members include:

  • Melissa Annett, Principal, Senior Project Manager, Strategic Advisor Manufacturing, RWDI
  • Pierre Courtemanche, Sustainability and Supply Chain Strategist
  • Bryce Diagle, Director, Market Strategy and Planning, Instacart
  • Tim Faveri, VP Sustainability and Shared Value, Maple Leaf Foods
  • Karen Flamand, AVP Claims Shared Services, National Claims, The Co-operators
  • Catherine Leighton, Senior Environmental Consultant, Sustainability and Environment, TELUS
  • Sourabh Malik, Vice President CPG, Restaurant Brands International
  • Dana McCauley, Chief Experience Officer, Canadian Food Innovation Network
  • Joe Solly, Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change, Deloitte
  • Bruce Taylor, President, Enviro-Stewards


“We couldn’t be happier with the interest and enthusiasm we’re seeing from businesses and organizations in our region that want to inject a more circular approach to their operations. Given recent global commitments to put our food system in the centre of strategies to address climate change, this announcement reinforces that Guelph-Wellington is a leader in this important work.”
Anne Toner Fung, Executive Director and CEO, Innovation Guelph

“This is an exciting development that supports the City of Guelph’s Strategic Plan: Guelph. Future ready. The work of COIL, the Smart Cities Office, and all those involved will help accelerate Guelph’s unique position in the innovation corridor, establishing this community as a leader in the fast-growing global circular economy. I can’t wait to learn more about the companies and ideas that this work will accelerate.”
Scott Stewart, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Guelph

About COIL

Launched in April 2021 with $5 million in funding from FedDev Ontario, COIL is an innovation platform and Launched in April 2021 with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), COIL is an innovation platform and activation network aimed at creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions across the food and environment sectors in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

COIL builds on the Our Food Future smart cities initiative which is close to meeting its goal of creating 50 new circular businesses and collaborations.

Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a community social finance fund developer with Our Food Future aimed at supporting impactful projects to strengthen the Guelph and Wellington communities.

About Our Food Future

Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build a regional circular food economy that will achieve a 50 per cent increase in access to affordable nutritious food, 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50 per cent increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Our Food Future one of the ways the City of Guelph and County of Wellington are contributing to a sustainable, creative and smart local economy that is connected to regional and global markets and supports shared prosperity for everyone.


Example of some of the companies involved in COIL programs

Media contacts

David Messer, Manager COIL
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3661
[email protected]  

Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3066
[email protected]

Posted on November 24, 2021