Agri-food accelerator The Grove to receive $7.2 million in federal investment
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT announced on Thursday plans to invest more than $7 million in The Grove, an agri-food accelerator run by the Western Fair Association.
The money, totally $7.2 million funded through the FedDev Ontario program, is intended to help expand and build on the work The Grove is doing in supporting innovative food and beverage companies and startups.
“Today’s announcement makes me and my Western Fair Association (WFA) colleagues extremely proud,” says Reg Ash, CEO of the WFA. “Today’s funding announcement will be critical in the continued development of The Grove into a world class example of new ways we can connect people, producers and farmers to strengthen the industry and build greater food security for Canada.”
The investment is projected to create around 550 jobs and sustain 100 more, according to FedDev Ontario’s press release. The project is also aiming to commercialize 20 new products or services and support up to 40 new companies.
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The Grove will provide a unique incubation environment, with shared production and packaging equipment, as well as individual spaces customized for growing food companies. Companies such as LiveFitFoods and the Fritter Shop have already set up at the Grove, and a number of community partners, including the London Economic Development Corp, the Small Business Centre, RH Accelerator and Libro Credit Union are providing support programs and mechanisms to support the incubation environment.
“London and the rural communities nearby have long been known for their capacity to produce and process agri-food for broad reach into the marketplace,” notes Kate Young, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (the department under which FedDev Ontario falls). “As we work to build back a stronger and more inclusive economy, investments like this one demonstrate the Government of Canada’s vision to build on regional strengths for a stable future, while creating good jobs for Canadians.”
FedDev has been investing heavily in the city of London as of late, to the tune of over $10 million in the past six months alone, when Thursday’s announcement is added to the $3 million investment in Fanshawe College’s Innovation Village, announced last November. The issue of food security has become more visible over the course of the pandemic and is emerging as an attractive funding avenue for the federal government’s plans to rebuild the post-pandemic economy.
“Our agriculture and agri-food sectors are critical to the well-being of our population,” adds Mélanie Joly, the federal minister of economic development. “The FedDev Ontario investment announced today will support London businesses to grow and strengthen this key sector, while creating valuable jobs, and helping our economy build back stronger.” Kieran Delamont