Protein Supercluster fund offering gets underway

As much as $40 million worth of investment capital is expected to be up for grabs under Protein Industries Canada’s (PIC) first funding tranche.

The initiative targets promising projects in the plant protein industry.

Chief executive officer Bill Greuel said PIC will match investments from private-sector companies whose projects are approved for funding.

PIC, also known as the protein supercluster, is one of five superclusters in Canada that will allocate nearly $1 billion worth of federal money to projects that invest in science and innovation under five general themes — proteins, digital technologies, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and oceans.

PIC has $153 million to invest in innovative plant protein projects over the next four years.

Expressions of interest must be received by June 28.

“We know in Canada that we’re not investing enough in science and innovation and that’s true for both levels of government, academia and the private sector,” said Greuel.

“So the Innovation Supercluster Program, which Protein Industries Canada is delivering on behalf of the Government of Canada, is really focused on de-risking science and innovation investments by the private sector.”

Greuel said PIC plans to co-invest directly with private sector companies in the value-added processing sector in Western Canada.

For approved projects, PIC will allocate up to 50 percent of eligible project costs, with private sector partners providing the other 50 percent.

There is no upper limit on how much PIC will invest in a single project, Greuel added.

However, approved projects must involve at least two private-sector companies, working in collaboration.

“The other thing that we know in Canada is that we don’t have enough collaboration happening between private sector companies,” Greuel said.

“So that’s another objective of Protein Industries Canada. We’re really aiming to increase science and innovation funding … and we’re aiming to increase the level of collaboration that’s happening between companies. That’s the backdrop of why we’ve designed the eligibility criteria as we have.”

Project proponents must be based in Canada and must be engaged in new projects that are contingent on PIC funding.

“We’re not in the business of subsidizing companies’ existing research and development budgets,” he said.

Successful projects can be involved in plant breeding, production agriculture, processing technologies and marketing initiatives that promote the plant protein industry.

Projects that support PIC’s objectives and meet established eligibility criteria will be shortlisted.

Proponents of short-listed projects will be contacted before the end of July and invited to submit more detailed proposals.

A second call for proposals is expected to launch later this year.

“If companies need more time (to put a proposal together) we will be issuing another call for proposals in September…,” Greuel said.

He said groups that need more information or want to share idea should call PIC.

Human consumption of plant-based protein is expected double globally over the next five years. Much of that additional consumption is based on the expectation that the number of middle class consumers will increase rapidly, especially in Asia.

Tiffany Stephenson, PIC’s chief marketing officer, said Canada’s crop producers and processors are ideally positioned to meet that demand.

Details on PIC funding and eligibility can be obtained on-line at www. proteinindustriescanada.ca or by calling PIC at 306-949-0049.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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