The inaugural Canadian Rural Innovation Summit successfully delivered two days showcasing the Bay of Quinte Region as an innovation destination and the importance of rural entrepreneurial growth.
Held in Belleville on Nov. 19-20 and hosted by QuinteVation, the event was a forum for policy discussion from the municipal, provincial and federal government level as well as an opportunity for local businesses of all sizes and sectors to discuss success stories, challenges and opportunities and the impact of policy in rural environments.
The Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and MPP for the Bay of Quinte, welcomed attendees and focused on the theme of Ontario being Open for Business and the importance of good jobs as the foundation for building strong communities.
Minister Smith cited the success of Brockville-based Advonex International, a company supported by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), which develops high-performance, cost-effective renewable lubricating base oils, emollients, mineral oils, waxes and fuels that outperform ingredients that traditionally have been produced from petroleum.
Keynote speakers were Amber Mac, author and digital media pioneer; Kevin Towes, author and Global Head of Business Development for Digital Audio and Video at Adobe; and Jeremy Laurin, entrepreneur and Vice President, Business Development and Commercialization at OCE.
Fireside chats were a popular feature at the Summit. Topics included access to capital, building a business plan, meeting the Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIRs), marketing and social media, legal strategies and sales strategies. Other sessions were held on navigating government, new frontiers of farming (wine, beer, cannabis, tech-driven farming and fisheries) and accessing global markets.
“The Canadian Rural Innovation Summit was a fantastic event,” said Laurin. “The panel sessions and speakers were very engaging and there was a real sense of community throughout the event. The Bay of Quinte region is harnessing the power of rural innovation and can serve as a blueprint for success for rural regions across Ontario and throughout Canada.”
Laurin said rural Ontario not only feeds the 14.3 million residents of the province but is also responsible for innovations that help drive job creation and economic growth in areas such as ag-tech and cleantech.
“Successful industry-academic collaborations such as Moyers Apple products and Mori Essex Nurseries partnering with Guelph University demonstrate OCE’s value proposition of helping industry create game-changing competitive advantages by collaborating with post-secondary institutions,” he said. “OCE supports projects in 160 communities across Ontario and last year helped create or retain almost 10,000 jobs. This unique value proposition elevates all sectors of Ontario’s economy on a global stage.”
Laurin shared the stage with Paul Moyer, CEO of Moyers Apple Products, who spoke about the history of his family’s farm, the challenges the company faced as a result of a listeria outbreak in the caramel apple industry, and how his company took charge to solve a problem that could have wiped them out.
Today, Moyers is becoming a leader in food safety after developing an ozone pre-treatment process that can inactivate pathogens to mitigate food-borne illness outbreaks, such as listeria, via the introduction of antimicrobial gas, while reducing condensation on water-sensitive produce.
Moyers Apple Products won OCE’s Mind-to-Market Award in 2018 for outstanding research collaboration and commercialization.