New Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre in Guelph

Guelph’s Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre is the only one of its kind in the country – and it’s being watched closely by other jurisdictions interested in boosting their efforts in this area.

Although there are many research parks, the ATCC is the only one that houses organizations dedicated to market development and expansion and new company formation under one roof, Dave Smardon of BioEnterprise Corporation told an audience at the ATCC’s winter meeting in Guelph recently.

BioEnterprise, Ontario Agri-Food Technologies and Soy 20/20 are the founding members of the new Centre. Now, sixteen months after its launch, it’s also home to the Agricultural Management Institute, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, the National Research Council, staff of the Guelph Food Technology Centre and a division of law firm Miller Thomson that handles intellectual property management.

“If you were an entrepreneur looking for help, you used to have to go to many different places,” Smardon said. “Co-location makes it easier to be cohesive and work together and having all these resources under one roof has made an incredible difference.”

The ATCC’s focus on agri-technology and agri-innovation is aligned with the province of Ontario’s broader innovation strategy. This includes bio-fibres, bio-composites, nutraceuticals, waste management and bio-based energy.

Bio Enterprise Corporation’s mandate is working with start ups to commercialize high-growth opportunities. Soy 20/20 is dedicated to market analysis and finding markets for new technologies and Ontario Agri-Food Technologies is focused on business to business market retention and expansion.

“We’re also building strategic partnerships across the country,” said Smardon, making mention of a proposal underway to seek funding for a new national agri-food innovation cluster that would bring corporations and researchers together.

Currently, ATCC already has Memorandums of Understanding in place with other groups involved in agri-innovation like the Guelph-based Advanced Foods and Materials Network, Saskatchewan’s AgWest Bio, the Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement and the Atlantic BioVenture Centre in Nova Scotia.

The ATCC is located in the University of Guelph Research Park and also shares its building with Farm Credit Canada, Ipsos Reid and the agricultural division of TD Canada Trust. The initiative receives the majority of its funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Growing Forward program.

This article was originally published in the Ontario Farmer on March 16, 2010.

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