Future-proofing food production in Canada
The deadline for Shepherd Phase applications was in January 2023. It is no longer possible to enter the Homegrown Innovation Challenge.
The $33-million Homegrown Innovation Challenge, delivered over six years, will identify teams and support the development of tools and technologies that enable Canadian farmers and producers to sustainably and competitively grow berries out of season.
In a climate-changing world, Canada’s high dependence on imported fresh fruits and vegetables make it vulnerable to food systems disruption. By solving the interconnected challenges that currently prevent out-of-season production at scale, the Homegrown Innovation Challenge will catalyze a range of solutions relevant to a broad array of fruit and vegetable crops in Canada and around the world.
The Challenge is funded and delivered by the Weston Family Foundation, which has had a longstanding interest in supporting initiatives that bolster healthy aging and healthy ecosystems as a means to improve the well-being of Canadians. The initiative launched in February 2022 and an innovation team that progresses through all challenge phases and ultimately claims the final awards would receive up to $8 million in funding to develop and scale their innovation.
Grants made under this Weston Family Foundation program will be made to qualified donees only in compliance with the rules governing registered charities under Canada’s Income Tax Act.
If you have any questions, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Feb 8, 2022
By solving the interconnected challenges that come with growing berries out of season, the Homegrown Innovation Challenge serves to catalyze a range of solutions relevant to a broad array of crops in Canada – and around the world.
May 3, 2022
Applications to the Spark Phase were due by 12pm ET on May 3, 2022. Please note that participation in the Spark Phase is not a prerequisite to apply to the Shepherd Phase of the Challenge.
May - July 2022
The independent judging panel selected 15 innovation teams to receive Spark Awards.
Jun - Dec 2022
Spark Awards of up to $50,000 are used by innovators to support development of their concept, build-out of their team and preparation of their full proposal (including technical plan) for the Shepherd Phase.
Jan 5, 2023
The deadline for applications to the Shepherd Phase of the Challenge was 12 pm ET on January 5, 2023. Only Shepherd Phase grantees will be considered for future phases of the Homegrown Innovation Challenge.
Jan - Mar 2023
The independent judging panel selects 10 innovation teams for the Shepherd Phase.
Apr 2023 - Sept 2024
The 10 innovation teams selected are awarded up to $1 million each across 18 months to develop and demonstrate a small-scale proof of concept of their system, generating evidence and learning to be assessed for progression to the Scaling Phase.
Oct - Dec 2024
The independent judging panel selects 4 innovation teams for the Scaling Phase.
Jan 2025 - Dec 2027
Each of the 4 innovation teams selected from the Shepherd Phase is awarded up to $5 million across 3 years to build and demonstrate its system at farm scale, providing the judging panel with evidence that it has produced berries out of season and otherwise achieved the objective set out in the Challenge statement.
The independent judging panel selects Challenge winners.
1-2 innovation teams selected from the Scaling Phase are announced as Challenge winners. One million dollars will be awarded to the overall winner and $1 million will be awarded to the technology breakthrough winner. (Both awards could be won by the same team.)
The Spark Awards are up to $50,000 grants to help innovators develop their concept and innovation team. Spark Award applications were due on May 3, 2022 and are now closed.
(Spark Awards are not a mandatory part of the Challenge; you do not need to apply for one in order to apply to the Shepherd Phase)
Ten innovation teams will be awarded up to $1 million to demonstrate a small-scale proof of concept of their system in the Shepherd Phase. Shepherd Phase applications were due on January 5, 2023 and are now closed.
(Only innovation teams receiving Shepherd Phase funding are eligible to participate in future phases of the Homegrown Innovation Challenge)