FedDev Ontario investments help two southwestern Ontario businesses scale up and succeed
Nearly $2 million combined for rural technology company and grain elevator business to grow and create 10 new jobs
June 2, 2021 — Mitchell, Ontario
As the world continues to cope with the impacts of the pandemic, businesses supporting southwestern Ontario’s agri-food sector are finding opportunities to scale up, commercialize game-changing innovations, and build resilience for the future. The Government of Canada is focused on the safety of Canadians, while ensuring businesses and individuals have the tools they need to prepare for a strong recovery.
VDB Grains (Van Der Burgt Grains Ltd.) is an independent, family-owned grain trading and elevator operation in Mitchell, Ontario, offering services such as drying, storage and trucking for grain farmers. With a $1-million repayable contribution, VDB Grains will adopt and install a first-in-Ontario high-efficiency grain dryer and other new equipment. This investment will help the company scale up capacity to meet customer demand, while the new grain dryer will reduce crop and food waste. The company’s adoption of ag-tech will not only increase the nutritional value and quality of grain products, but will also benefit farmers by allowing VDB Grains to accept crops with a higher moisture content than traditional grain dryers. This is particularly important due to climate variability.
Mycionics Inc., located in Putnam, Ontario, is a technology company with a vision of solving agricultural issues, and has developed a robotic harvesting system for mushroom growing facilities. This product will be the first in Canada to identify and pick harvest-ready mushrooms without damaging them or their growing beds. This innovation has the potential to address labour shortages while increasing the quality of the harvest. With a $975,766-repayable contribution, Mycionics Inc. will implement the technology in two southern Ontario mushroom operations, test and develop the robotic harvesting system for industrial scale use, and ready it for commercialization and export.
With this investment, VDB Grains will leverage additional capital from other investments, increase local supply chain purchases by 100 percent by 2023, and continue to grow its team, including the addition of four new employees in Mitchell. Mycionics Inc. will also leverage an additional $2.9 million in private sector investment and create six skilled jobs in Putnam, Ontario.
“The Government of Canada is proud to support local businesses to bring first-in-Ontario and first-in-Canada technologies to market, and help them to bring quality food products to Canadians. We are here for businesses as they find opportunities to expand and stay resilient for the future—all while creating good, local jobs.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“Agriculture and agri-food businesses—and the innovators that support them—are important to our region. Southern Ontario’s agri-food-related businesses, such as VDB Grains in Mitchell, and innovative technology producers, like Mycionics in Putnam, have tremendous potential to support local economies in rural communities, while creating good-quality jobs."
- Marie-France Lalonde, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario and Official Languages)
“Support from FedDev Ontario will allow us to serve grain farmers from across southwestern Ontario. This project will ensure that we can increase flexibility in the moisture content of grain sold by our farmers, which is becoming increasingly important due to climate variability. Additionally, our new equipment will increase the nutritional value and quality of our grain product through advancements in drying technology and allow us to increase exports of Canadian grown high-valued grain including Identity Preserved soybeans.”
- Ron Van Der Burgt, Founder and Senior Grain Merchant, VDB Grains
“The support of FedDev Ontario has accelerated Mycionics’ development phase to address the increasing labour shortage on Canadian mushroom farms. Mycionics’ patented robotic harvesting system is designed to simply integrate into existing farm infrastructure to autonomously harvest, trim and pack mushrooms meeting quality and consistency standards for the fresh market.”
- Michael Curry, CEO, Mycionics Inc.
Ontario’s agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs across the province and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the regional economy.
Ron Van Der Burgt, Owner of VDB Grains, and his family immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1996. He started the company with his family in 2007 when he was just 18. The business currently serves more than 100 customers and purchasers from over 500 farms throughout southwestern Ontario.
Founded in 2014, Mycionics aims to become the world’s leading supplier of agricultural robotics and automation services. Adoption of Mycionics’ robotic harvesting system will improve a farm’s mushroom yield by 5-20 percent, and reduce bruising below the industry standard of 10 percent.
Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) are on the ground helping businesses weather the effects of the pandemic. With the measures recently outlined in Budget 2021, FedDev Ontario continues to be a trusted partner, and will continue to deliver targeted support in southern Ontario.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, Budget 2021 proposes the RDAs will provide $700 million over three years to support business financing, positioning local economies for long-term, inclusive, clean growth and creating jobs.
Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested over $127 million in 71 projects in agri-food and over $192 million in 111 projects in robotics and automation.
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
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