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AcCELLerate-ON, Canada’s first regional cellular agriculture competition, funds four cutting edge cellular agriculture-focused food and beverage projects

With a potential result of food innovations that will create billions in economic value for Canada and environmental benefit for the world, Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) and Ontario Genomics launched AcCELLerate-ON, Canada’s first regional cellular agriculture competition. Designed to spark food innovation, this program will support the research and development of viable food production methods such as cell culture, precision fermentation, tissue engineering, scaffolding and hybridizing production capabilities.


Funded Projects

On May 3, 2022 The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) and Ontario Genomics have announced the recipients of more than $900K in funding through their AcCELLerate-ON competition. AcCELLerate-ON is Canada’s first regional cellular agriculture competition, supporting the research and development of novel and innovative viable food production methods with the intent to drive economic growth and Ontario’s global leadership in this new and sustainable way to produce food.

The four genomics and engineering biology projects were chosen for their potential to drive food innovation, address industry opportunities, solve challenges, and benefit the cellular agriculture ecosystem and food and beverage industry in Ontario.

  • Ardra Inc.: Developing fermentation-based production of heme as a natural flavour ingredient
  • Cell Ag Tech: Scaling up the manufacturing of fish muscle stem cells from a 2D to 3D culture system with proteomic assessments of the cells
  • Evolved (formerly Caro Meats): Creating cultivated pork belly that is identical to conventional pork belly
  • The University of Toronto, Dr. Michael Garton in collaboration with MyoPalate: Establishing the foundational tools for cultivated pork production

Project Descriptions:

Ardra Inc.: Developing fermentation-based production of heme as a natural flavour ingredient

Alternatives to animal protein are targeted towards disrupting the global meat industry, a >$800B market, with total sales of plant-based foods in 2021 around $10B. To further grow the market share, plant-based foods need improvements in matching meat-based products’ flavour, texture, nutrition, and cooking behaviour. Addressing these challenges is believed to be a significant driver for greater adoption of meat alternatives and satisfying consumer demands.

A significant focus of the Canadian alternative meat industry is supplying pulse-based plant ingredients. However, Ontario has an opportunity to support the alternative meat industry and potentially enable more Canadian-produced products by leveraging its engineering biology and biotechnology expertise to supply/create ingredients to enhance these products.

Ardra’s project focuses on developing a very well understood ingredient called heme, found in animal blood, which alone provides a core element of the taste of meat. Ardra has demonstrated production of animal-free heme by precision fermentation and has active requests for larger sample amounts from several major flavour companies. Their AcCELLerate-ON project objective is to reach pilot-scale for heme production, validation of their key ingredients by these potential customers, and to establish a clear path to market.