Spurring innovation

RH Accelerator and Fanshawe College announce new product development and research partnership

FOR EARLY-STAGE BUSINESSES, particularly in the agriculture and food sectors, access to research and development resources — labs, testing equipment and so on — can be costly and, as such, can represent a huge hurdle.

A new partnership between the Fanshawe Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI) and RH Accelerator, a tech and agri-business start-up accelerator, is trying to bridge that gap, connecting growing companies with the resources available at Fanshawe.

“It’s like an in-house lab,” says RH Accelerator’s co-founder, Joe Dales. “It’s not traditional — we’re trying to create new business process to unlock the potential of those learning institutions. They’re the gold mines of the future.”

“I’d like the companies to go in there, engage and figure out how they can create some new and innovative products” ―Joe Dales

The partnership, Dales says, would offer a company with a great idea the technical capabilities and development facilities to make it a reality — something that, in regulated spaces like food or cannabis, can be cost-prohibitive, difficult to access, or both.

Dales offers a hypothetical: “Let’s say I have an existing business and I want to come up with another food concept,” he says. “Maybe it’s plant-based product and I need someone to help me formulate it and test it and help me make it.” With access to facilities at CRI — and a student base eager to work on practical applications of their research — growing companies can develop their products much more efficiently. It’s a win-win for everyone — the company, which gets access to materials and facilities; the college, which wants to connect with real-world companies; and the students, who gain critical experience.

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“There’s just tremendous resources there for small businesses,” Dales says. “That’s what we’re trying to do ― connect the dots.”

Dales says they are aiming to get started with around 10 companies benefitting from the partnership. “We do a lot of agri-food stuff — anything from new plant-based products to cannabis developments,” he says. “The opportunity is there, but people often don’t know about these terrific resources.”

Spurring innovation RH Accelerator InnovationFrom left, David Billson, Joe Dales and Brian Foster, founders of RH Accelerator Inc. (file photo)

He says he hopes to see this partnership make a quick impact. “I’d like the companies to go in there, engage and figure out how they can create some new and innovative products,” Dales says.

“Fanshawe’s labs are at the forefront of proof-of-concept and product testing, two key areas that growing businesses need to achieve success,” adds CRI’s chair of research, Colin Yates. “We connect these businesses to the laboratory services, expertise and partners they need to bring their ideas to market. Our work in food innovation is both important to the regional economy and deeply relevant to the global need to produce more food that is more nutritious with less waste.” Spurring innovation RH Accelerator Innovation Kieran Delamont

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