Agri-Tech Innovation Cost-Share Program

Amount: up to a maximum of $750,000

The Agri-Tech Innovation cost-share program under Innovators category will provide funding for projects that involve the piloting and/or demonstration of technological innovation that advances automation through robotics, artificial intelligence, digital and/or other forms of innovative technologies in reducing labour intensive work practices and processes often associated with high-risk COVID transmission, in order to reduce the risk of transmission among agri-food workers and, lead to increased productivity.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Two or more legal entities that have an Arm’s Length relationship from each other and are collaborating on a project may apply, provided each entity:
    • is directly engaged and has a vested interest in the project (i.e. contributing cash, providing resources, project oversight, and/or expertise in the project)
    • is in compliance with all Requirements of Law and agrees to remain in compliance with all Requirements of Law for the duration of the project,
    • one of the entities represents the interests of sector(s) or supply value chain(s) within Ontario which will benefit from the project.

    Project partners collaborating on a Project:

    For the purposes of the application, legal entities collaborating on a Project may include, but are not limited to:

    • For-Profit entities, Not-For-Profit entities, clusters or consortiums of associations/organizations along the Agri-food sectors’ value chain, and/or academic/research institutions
    • Entities that are vendors or suppliers to the project must have an Arm’s Length relationship from each other, as set out in section 251 of the Income Tax Act (Canada). For example, they are not:
      • Corporations that are under common control
      • Relationships of control involving corporations
      • Individuals connected by blood relationship, adoption, marriage or common law
    • Entities that are retail food services, Agri-food Packaging material manufacturers and Agri-food warehousing and distribution, may collaborate on projects, but are not eligible to be a lead entity
    • Entities located outside of Ontario may participate in the program, if the Agri-food supply value-chain is primarily located in Ontario. The project must primarily benefit the Ontario agri-food and agri-products sectors

    Project partners must submit a Partner Declaration form as part of the application.

Eligible Projects

In order to be eligible, the proposed project must focus on technology that:

  • Reduces labour intensive work practices and processes often associated with high-risk COVID transmission among agri-food workers, and addresses at least one of the following labour-related benefits:
    • Allows business to focus redeployment of workers to higher value-added activities
    • Reduces the ongoing labour shortage pressures in the sector
    • Attracts more highly skilled labour to businesses within the sector
    • Increases the productivity
  • Has a Technology Readiness Level that is currently between 7 and 8 (inclusive), and involves the piloting and/or demonstrating in a real-world operational setting with the intention of bringing the solution to market pending the outcome of the pilot/demonstration.
  • Meets one or more of the definitions of Innovation below:
    • An *invention, new technology or new process that is not currently available in the Ontario agri-food marketplace.
    • Significant modifications to existing technologies/components/processes in order to expand the application of technologies/components/processes for use in a new sector.
    • An improvement in functionality, expansion of application, cost or performance over an existing technology/process that is considered state-of-the-art or the current industry best practice.

An “invention” is defined as: “A manufacturing design or any other new and useful improvement that is new or novel, that is, not commonly known or not an obvious derivative of an existing way of doing things.”

  • Advances automation through robotics, artificial intelligence, digital and/or other forms of innovative technologies, that have a clear market potential and are not commercially available for wide scale application.
  • Ensures the new technology adheres to all regulations (federal or provincial) and requirements connected to worker health and safety standards including new COVID-related protocols in Agri-food facilities.
  • Has a knowledge transfer plan respecting intellectual property rights, that will detail the approach to sharing knowledge and project results across commodities/sectors and/or value chains in Ontario to allow for future adoption.

Eligible Costs

  • Cost of goods (including supplies), services and all related shipping or transportation costs.
  • Labour costs for new staff that are dedicated specifically to the project (such as contract salaries, benefits, and specific per diem fees).
  • Costs of land rental for piloting and demonstration purposes.
  • Costs for rental of facilities, equipment or machinery necessary for implementation of the project.
  • Costs of communication materials including design, printing, translation, to disseminate best practices, outcomes and learnings derived from pilot projects, or demonstrations.
  • For research services costs, overhead of a service supplier that is a research institution, to a maximum of 25 per cent of applicable eligible costs.
  • Travel, meal and accommodation expenses related to essential travel necessary for the implementation of the project.
  • In-kind contributions related to salaries of exiting staff that are specifically dedicated to the project, to a maximum of 15 percent of the approved value of eligible project costs.


Applicants may apply for up to 60% of eligible costs, to a maximum of $750,000. Funding may be provided at the amount or percentage requested or at a reduced amount or percentage, depending on the merit assessment of the project and funding availability.


The application and required documentation must be submitted by September 27, 2021 by 11:59 p.m. EDT. Late submissions will not be accepted.