EMILI is pleased to announce the first round of 2023 Emergence Grant recipients. Five emerging digital agriculture innovators will receive financial support and guidance to advance digital innovation in the agri-food sector.

Over the past two years, this initiative has funded over 150k toward emerging technologies by Prairie innovators. 2023 grant recipients include Carbon Lock Tech, N49 Genetics, NeoNutes, Dacotah Malt, and TapRoot Research, with more collaborations to be announced later this spring.

“These early-stage organizations – many of them women-led, share a passion for innovation and a desire to increase the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture in the prairies,” said EMILI Managing Director Jacqueline Keena.

Cody Ray and Holly Anderson, founders of NeoNutes, say that without EMILI’s support they might have missed the opportunity to partner with Futurpreneur to purchase the modular grow pod and related technologies needed to provide year round lettuce to their micro-green customers in Brandon, Manitoba. 

Neonutes’ commitment to agricultural sustainability garnered them Brandon’s Green Business Award in 2022 as well as a loyal customer base which includes Brandon area restaurants, the Heritage Co-op, and a number of individual subscribers. 

They hope that as their business expands, they will be able to acquire more grow pods and the chance to develop a pilot program to provide fresh greens in Northern Indigenous communities. For now, they are just excited for the chance to acquire the agricultural technology they need to provide Brandon food outlets and foodies with a steady supply of nutrient-rich leafy greens, as well as the chance to connect practicum students from Assiniboine Community College with urban farming.

Ray points to weather events such as the 2020 fires in California that impacted lettuce supplies across the US and Canada when saying that thinking of his children’s future motivates him to innovate. 

“If there is one thing that inspired me the most it is an Indigenous elder that said we do not inherit this earth from our ancestors, we are simply borrowing it from our children,” he said.

Learn more about this year’s Emergence Grant recipients

Photo demonstrating carbon flow supplied by Carbon Lock Tech

Carbon Lock Tech is acquiring necessary equipment toward a complex system that converts food and crop waste into a stable form of biocarbon that can be sequestered in a range of sustainable products and applications.

Dacotah Malt will work with EMILI to increase digital automation and streamline production in its Elie, Manitoba facility. Electromechanical equipment and sensors such as a self-contained transfer system to simplify the process of moving grain and malt from one piece of processing equipment to another will increase the productivity of their small-batch malt production.

N49 Genetics is developing a precision plot planter in Warren, Manitoba that accelerates the development of soybean breeding lines and varieties with improved stress tolerance traits suited for the Western Canadian marketplace.

NeoNutes is working with Futurpreneur to purchase a fully automated modular grow pod fitted with all the necessary technology to grow highly nutritious lettuce in a controlled environment, year-round. This system allows them to provide a consistent supply of nutritious greens to restaurants, grocers, and individual subscribers in Brandon, Manitoba.

Taproot Research Ltd utilizes specialized precision equipment to increase the capacity of their small plot agricultural research offerings. The Rosenort, Manitoba-based research farm launched in 2021 to advance Canadian agriculture by providing agriculturally sustainable research services for local growers, government, industry, and academia.

Empowering ag-tech entrepreneurs strengthens sector

Supporting start-ups and scale-ups is core to EMILI’s strategic pillar of capital enablement.

“We have incredible agri-tech talent here in Manitoba and we are excited to be able to support such an impressive group of entrepreneurs,” said EMILI Capital Enablement Manager Lasha Glennie.  

Glennie joined EMILI earlier this month after nearly a decade of experience in Winnipeg’s technology community. She brings a strong track record of supporting tech companies as they secure investment, sales, and partnerships, and is keen to begin working with entrepreneurial Manitoba agri-food businesses in her new role. 

“Empowering small to medium sized enterprises is an important way to advance digital agriculture and strengthen our economy,” said Keena. “With access to the resources they need, these organizations can increase the speed at which we innovate, create new jobs, and ensure a sustainable future for Manitoba’s digital agriculture sector.”

EMILI established the Emergence Initiative in 2021 to help bridge the gap startups and emerging tech organizations experience when developing new digital agriculture technologies. This initiative provides vital support  to increase the scale of ag-tech innovation in Manitoba and across the prairies.  

To date, this work has been supported through a collaboration with BioEnterprise to grow the digital agriculture ecosystem in Manitoba. The program has been extremely successful and is a key way that EMILI increases the capacity of agri-tech start-ups and scale-ups in the province.