Helping business build connection and reduce food waste

Smart Cities launches its first two COIL projects

Today the Smart Cities Office, along with partner organizations, is launching the ReSource Exchange and Circular Economy Digital Passport to help food businesses across Ontario join the circular food economy. The ReSource Exchange and Circular Economy Digital Passport are the first two projects coming out of the recently announced Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL).

ReSource Exchange

Designed to be a free business-to-business marketplace, ReSource Exchange enables companies to post their food waste, byproducts and coproducts that would normally be thrown away for other businesses to use. Businesses can also generate new revenue and reduce potential costs by posting excess space, tools and equipment, and donate a particular food product to local food-relief organizations through the platform.

“Food businesses across the supply chain currently spend considerable amounts of money to send waste materials to landfills. ReSource Exchange will help surface these materials and create new business-to-business collaborations in our region that further our goal of creating a circular food economy across our region,” says David Messer, manager, COIL, Smart Cities Office.

“The Guelph Chamber prides itself in providing meaningful opportunities to increase the competitive advantage of its members and increase economic prosperity in the community,” says Shakiba Shayani, president and CEO, Guelph Chamber of Commerce. “If you’re looking to transform a waste stream into a value stream and build collaborations with other businesses in our region, we recommend the ReSource Exchange platform.”

Beyond the website, ReSource Exchange is supported by a dedicated team at Innovation Guelph as well as Provision Coalition and other collaborators that work to actively match materials posted on the platform with other businesses that could use them. The team will also use the platform to help develop new products and companies through innovation challenges.

Circular Economy Digital Passport

Guelph-Wellington’s Circular Economy iHub (CE iHub) connects entrepreneurs and established businesses with funding and innovation opportunities. The digital passport that will help connect businesses with circular economy programs, business resources and experts that can support them on their journey. The passport itself provides digital stamps enabling businesses to share their achievements and be recognized for their commitment to the circular food economy across social networks.

“The digital passport is a new and innovative way to connect and support businesses as they work to adapt their business models to align with the circular food economy,” says Anne Toner Fung, CEO, Innovation Guelph. “Through this program, businesses will learn what it means to be circular, connect with likeminded businesses and drive change within their own organizations. In the end we want to see businesses thrive and add value to the community through the circular food economy.”

About COIL

COIL is an innovation platform and activation network aimed at creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy. COIL funds a range of programs that accelerate circular enterprises, launch innovative demonstration projects and help inspire new circular collaborations across the food and environment sectors. The initiative was launched in April 2021 with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

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 Canada’s first tech-enabled circular food economy that will achieve a 50% increase in access to affordable nutritious food, 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50% increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Our Food Future demonstrates 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.


Our Food Future website

Media contacts

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

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

Collection of personal information

Personal information is being collected and will be used for the purpose of sending COIL news by email.

Personal information, as defined by Section 2 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), is collected under the authority of the Municipal Act, 2001, and in accordance with the provisions of MFIPPA.

If you have questions about COIL please contact us at 519-822-1260 extension 3559 or [email protected].

If you have questions about the collection, use or disclosure of this personal information please contact the City of Guelph’s Information and Access Coordinator at 519-822-1260 extension 2349 or email [email protected].

Growing the Circular Economy in Guelph-Wellington and across Canada

FedDev Ontario commits nearly $5 million to support Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad

Guelph, Ontario, April 16, 2021 – Today, the Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities Office received new funding for a far-reaching initiative that will advance its goal to help create and support circular economy businesses and organizations in the region, and across Canada.

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario has committed nearly $5 million between 2021 and 2024 to support the creation of COIL – the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad. The announcement builds on the success of the Our Food Future initiative and strengthens Guelph-Wellington’s growing reputation as a national test bed and launchpad to advance circular economy business models and opportunities.

COIL will provide programs, funding, and platforms to accelerate circular businesses and concepts in the food and environment sectors. The program will also launch challenges and transformative sector-wide demonstration projects. Funding will support businesses affected by COVID-19 to help Guelph-Wellington and Canada recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“Canada is ready to be a world leader in green recovery, and southern Ontario’s businesses are in a unique position to drive this goal by adopting and advancing circular economy innovations and processes. This FedDev Ontario investment announced today will support the region’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow and strengthen this critical area, bringing their ideas to market faster, while reducing carbon emissions and creating 400 jobs,” says The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

“This is terrific news for our region and for Canadians,” says Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office. “Globally and locally, we have an opportunity to ‘build forward better’. From climate change to inequality, we are now seeing the consequences and negative effects of our ‘take, make, dispose’ socioeconomic model on our communities and the planet.”

Plans include:

  • Develop a Circular Economy Accelerator to support the growth of 45 high-potential circular economy businesses with coaching and up to $40,000 in funding per business.
  • Expand the Harvest Impact social impact investment fund with a goal to raise $3 million and create a community-based lending facility that provides access to capital for food and environment sector companies and enterprising not-for-profits.
  • Lead five flagship demonstration projects that will explore, test and prove circular business models, with up to $100,000 available per project.
  • Launch three innovation challenges that incentivize cross-industry collaboration and surface transformative ideas to redesign supply chains or business models.
  • Expand the Guelph-Wellington Circular Economy Urban Rural Test Bed to provide resources and connections to support innovators and researchers from across southern Ontario.
  • Expand the Circular Economy Data Hub to gather and strengthen access to essential data required to inform research and problem-solving.
  • Launch a ReSource Exchange virtual business-to-business marketplace to match unwanted but still valuable by-products with those that can turn that waste into a new value stream.

Program details and participation guidelines will be released in late summer 2021.

A fundamental principle of the project is collaboration and multi-stakeholder participation. COIL partners and collaborators include:

Core partners


About the circular economy

A circular economic framework provides pathways to a sustainable, inclusive, low carbon economy.​ New business models are being created that are inspired by nature’s circular systems, where there is no such thing as waste. From production to consumption, circular businesses and supply chains anticipate and design for resources and goods to be either safely returned to nature, or back into systems where they can be reused or renewed, creating economic value without comprising the environment.

A circular food system, for example, aims to disrupt current models to eliminate waste by keeping as much energy, nutrients and materials as possible cycling through the system—and generating value as a result. It looks at everything from how we produce food to how we distribute, sell and consume it; and, it looks at how these disruptions can benefit society as a whole – creating sustainable, inclusive communities.

Circularity is proven to:

  • Save and regenerate our natural resources;
  • Reduce carbon emissions;
  • Add material savings for businesses and consumers;
  • Ignite innovation, business and job creation; and
  • Contribute to community resiliency.

Circular principles can be applied to just about every sector of the economy, from textiles to tires, electronics to building supplies. Learn more about the concept of the circular economy through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a global leader in accelerating circularity across a breadth of industries and systems.

About Our Food Future

Guelph-Wellington has emerged as an international leader in developing and supporting circular economy systems in the food sector. The Our Food Future initiative was awarded $10 million in 2019 from Infrastructure Canada after competing in the Smart Cities Challenge.

The program continues to implement several projects to increase local access to nutritious food by 50 per cent, increase circular economic benefit by 50 per cent by unlocking the value of waste, and create at least 50 new circular businesses and collaborations.

The latter goal will be met by the end of 2021, three years ahead of schedule, and shows no sign of slowing down. In summer 2020, the Seeding Our Food Future program, developed in response to COVID-19 to support the recovery and development of food businesses, provided grants of up to $5,000 to 40 local entrepreneurs or small enterprises to launch new circular food businesses or collaborations or adopt circular practices. The program was heavily oversubscribed, with more than 70 regional applicants and strong interest from entrepreneurs beyond Guelph-Wellington. COIL will provide more support for this demand.

Additional quotes

“Now, more than ever, supporting environmentally-friendly solutions and processes is essential for Canada’s future and economic sustainability. With FedDev Ontario’s funding for the City of Guelph to establish a circular economy-focused accelerator and test platform, we are helping to jumpstart new companies to develop their innovations and bring their products to market, while supporting southern Ontario’s economy, and, more importantly, the health of our communities and the environment.”
Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph

“The Our Food Future team has forged a set of tools they can now extend to others, further strengthening our region. Congratulations to everyone involved with the Our Food Future initiative.”
Kelly Linton, Warden, County of Wellington

“Once again, Guelph-Wellington is at the forefront of innovative, exciting projects that benefit everyone in our communities and beyond. This funding announcement is a testament to the commitment and innovation happening across our region.”
Cam Guthrie, Mayor of Guelph

“This is a proud achievement that is helping put Guelph-Wellington on the map as a leader in sustainability and economic development. Local businesses have shown a huge appetite for this kind of advanced thinking, as do our residents. COIL is an exciting opportunity for businesses and organizations to access funding, connections and expertise that will help them move towards a more sustainable circular economy.”
Scott Stewart, CAO, City of Guelph

“The Smart Cities Office has worked closely with businesses and community organizations over the past two years. We have heard loud and clear that they are ready to embrace the principles of a circular economy and this investment goes a long way to helping us support them.”
Anne Toner Fung, Executive Director, Innovation Guelph

“Social and environmental responsibility is the way of the future. Place-based impact investing ensures that individuals, companies and foundations can invest in positive change happening in their communities. Harvest Impact Fund will also collaborate with a new field of social-first lenders across Ontario to provide support for COIL companies.”
Julia Grady, Executive Director, 10C


COIL logo (download)

COIL logo

Media contacts

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

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

Justine Dainard, Smart Cities Project Manager
County of Wellington
519-837-2600 extension 2540
[email protected]