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Six-year berry challenge reveals judging panel as deadline nears


April 12, 2022
By Weston Family Foundation

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Weston Family Foundation has announced the expert judging panel of the $33-million Homegrown Innovation Challenge (CNW Group/Weston Family Foundation)

The Weston Family Foundation’s $33 million, six-year Homegrown Innovation Challenge has selected an international panel of expert judges .

The Homegrown Innovation Challenge launched on February 8 to find solutions that will enable out-of-season production of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada. Participants in the challenge are asked to create market-ready systems for growing berries year-round in Canada on a commercially viable scale. Teams that successfully complete the Challenge could be awarded up to $8 million in funding from the Weston Family Foundation.

Assembled by the Weston Family Foundation, the independent judging panel includes the following members:

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“Collectively, the members of our panel offer a breadth of experience in food systems innovation and will be instrumental in helping teams conceptualize and bring sustainable, locally-grown food production solutions to market,” said Emma Adamo, chair, Weston Family Foundation. “We’re grateful to each member for their time and commitment to ensure top innovations are unearthed throughout the Challenge.”

Based on the preset judging criteria, the judging panel will leverage their expertise and experience to select the strongest contenders. The primary objective of these criteria is to assess the system developed, and not solely the berries produced, to lead to solutions applicable to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

The six-year Challenge runs in several phases.

The first Spark Award phase will see the selection of as many as 15 innovators, each receiving up to $50,000 to support the development of their concept, formation of a team, completion of their full application, and more. Spark Awards are not mandatory, and teams that do not apply for one or are not successful in their application may still apply for the overall Challenge in the Shepherd Phase.

Teams can submit their Spark Award applications until the May 3, 2022 deadline (12 p.m. ET).

Over six years, eligible teams will advance through a series of funded phases as they create, test and refine their systems to grow berries out of season and at scale, leading to selecting both an overall winner and a technology breakthrough winner

Learn more about the application criteria and process and register for the informational webinar on April 13 at 1:00 p.m. EST at www.homegrownchallenge.ca.