Up to $8 million in funding for the innovation team that progresses through the three phases of the Challenge and wins the final awards
By solving the interconnected challenges that come with growing berries out of season, the Homegrown Innovation Challenge process will catalyze a range of solutions relevant to a broad array of other fruits and vegetables in Canada and around the world. Ultimately, extending the country’s growing season for fresh produce will reduce the country’s dependence on imported fruits and vegetables, enabling a more resilient food system in Canada.
The Homegrown Innovation Challenge launched in February 2022 and is made up of three distinct stages:
Spark Phase, including Spark Awards (application deadline was May 3, 2022. Applications are now closed.)
During this phase of the Challenge, funded innovation teams developed their concepts along with detailed plans for how they will implement and scale their concept during the later phases of the competition. The solutions articulated by funded innovation teams reached Technology Readiness Level 2 or higher by the end of the Spark Phase (i.e. at time of application to the Shepherd Phase).
Shepherd Phase (application deadline was January 5, 2023. Applications are now closed.)
The top 10 innovation teams selected by an independent judging panel will be awarded up to $1 million each across an 18 month period 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. Solutions should be reaching Technology Readiness Level 5 or higher by the end of the Shepherd Phase (when being submitted to the Scaling Phase).
Please note that only innovation teams that receive funding under the Shepherd Phase of the Homegrown Innovation Challenge are eligible to participate in future phases of the Challenge, including the Scaling Phase.
Scaling Phase (application deadline late 2024)
The top 4 innovation teams selected from the Shepherd Phase will be awarded up to $5 million each across three years to build and demonstrate their system at farm scale in Canada, providing the judging panel with evidence that it has produced berries out of season during the trial. Solutions should be reaching Technology Readiness Level 8 or higher by the end of the Scaling Phase (when being submitted for final assessment).
Innovation teams that have best met the Challenge statement — “Create and deliver a market-ready system to reliably, sustainably and competitively produce berries out of season and at scale in Canada” — by the end of this period qualify to be considered for the final prizes. $1 million will be awarded to the best overall team and $1 million will be awarded to the team that has demonstrated the greatest breakthrough vis-à-vis its technology.
Note that both final prizes could be won by the same team.
In August 2022, 15 innovation teams received up to $50K (Spark Award) to support the development of their concept, team and application to the Shepherd Phase.
In mid 2023, 10 innovation teams will each receive up to $1M to develop proofs of concept for their ideas in the Shepherd Phase.
In early 2025, 4 innovation teams will each receive up to $5M to prepare their innovations for implementation at farm scale in the Scaling Phase.
In 2028, 2 innovation teams will each receive $1M as either the overall winner or the breakthrough technology winner OR 1 team will receive $2M if they are the highest-scoring team in both categories.