This guest blog post was written by Dr. Rita Sterne, Project Manager with the Greenhouse Technology Network. Read on for important information about this funding opportunity.
Why do we need a Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN)?
Success for a greenhouse business comes from many things including balancing systems, constant vigilance, and the use of technologies across complex production activities. From tools, equipment, and machines, to methods, systems, and techniques, new and improved technologies must help growers run a profitable businesses in a world where there are increasing demands from society, environment, and economy.
Technological advancements often develop in response to a challenge, but research and development is a costly undertaking for many small and medium sized businesses and some persistent challenges require research expertise that is hard to access. This is where the Greenhouse Technology Network can help!
What is the Greenhouse Technology Network?
The need for new and improved technologies is the driver behind the Greenhouse Technology Network (GTN), a consortium of three research-focused institutions. GTN members leverage their research expertise in greenhouse technologies with greenhouse and related technology businesses to help grow innovation in Ontario’s greenhouse industry.
Powered by funding from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, GTN members help businesses de-risk innovation activities and help new and improved technologies get to greenhouse growers faster where they will help business thrive and grow.
Who are GTN members and what capabilities do they have?
GTN members include three heavyweights in the greenhouse research space:
- The Agriculture and Environmental Technologies Centre at Niagara College, home of Ontario’s first Greenhouse Technician program where curiosity in real-life research projects is grown and future horticulturalists emerge.
- The Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph, home to cutting-edge growing chambers where experts measure anything related to a plant or the growing environment.
- The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to horticulture science and innovation with strengths in genetics, automation, and IPM.
Together, GTN members create value for growers and greenhouse-related technology businesses by leveraging knowledge, experience, equipment, and facilities to solve challenges for business partners. Members also successfully plan and execute research projects and access GTN funding to de-risk innovation activities for the business. GTN members create value for growers and greenhouse-related technology businesses by extending their research and development activities. Finally, each GTN member is also experienced in collaborating to find solutions for complex challenges.
Who is eligible for GTN funding?
To be eligible for GTN funding, greenhouses and related technology businesses must face a greenhouse or related technology challenge. Growers, greenhouse industry suppliers, and related technology providers are eligible to apply for funding to address their challenge.
To be eligible, businesses must also be:
- willing to collaborate with a GTN member to solve their challenge
- willing and able to invest in their project
- have fewer than 500 employees, and
- have operations in southern Ontario (as defined on this map)
What does GTN funding look like?
Businesses (we call these “Industry Partners”) put “skin in the game” by investing cash (20% minimum of the total business portion) and in-kind contributions to the project (for example, employee time, supplies, materials). GTN funding will match this investment to a maximum of 1:1 on eligible contributions (investments directly related to the applied research project and eligible under the funding agreement).
The details of a workplan, budget, and outcomes form the foundation of a project contract between a GTN member and their industry partner. GTN funding can match eligible contributions from a business (cash + in-kind) up to a maximum match of $100K. A funded project can be any duration, but all funded projects must be completed by March 31, 2024.
What does an applied research project look like?
All GTN projects will be focused on a greenhouse or related technology challenge where a solution can positively impact the greenhouse industry in Ontario. For each research project, GTN members clearly define the challenge faced, the scope of the project, and the project budget. They sign a research contract with the business and professionally manage the project in collaboration with the Industry Partner. GTN members save businesses time and money by extending their research and development activities—and ensure project outcomes are successfully met.
What projects has GTN successfully completed?
Network activities launched in April 2021 and GTN members already have a wide variety of technology projects under way. Success stories for completed projects can be accessed on the GTN website.
How can my business apply?
Businesses interested in solving technology challenges with GTN funding can learn more by:
- contacting the GTN office at 905-984-0486 or email@example.com
- by applying online using the simple application (no application deadline!).
- by reaching out directly to our GTN research centre members.
How can I stay up to date with GTN?
Please stay in touch with us as we share the latest news and successes on social media! You can connect with the GTN via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. We love the greenhouse industry…… let’s talk #greenhousetechnology
Rita Sterne is Project Manager with the Greenhouse Technology Network. An avid “innovation wonk”, Rita has creatively managed businesses and research labs and used her knowledge of business strategy and innovation in a consulting role to small businesses, government, and social enterprises. She earned her MBA and PhD (Mgmt) from the University of Guelph and has horticulture in her DNA. Her passion for the greenhouse industry grew from postdoctoral work where she looked at value potential from the adoption of robotics by Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable growers. When not at work, Rita is an avid stained glass artist and lover of Canada’s music, rocks, trees, and water.