Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Summer-quality, Canadian-grown strawberries in January

Velocity company Ceragen helps make the impossible possible to boost food security

By University of Waterloo Media Relations

When it comes to buying fresh fruit like strawberries, Canadians are largely vulnerable to global food supply chains, which can break down in a matter of weeks. This became very clear to families trying to keep fresh food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ceragen, a company at Velocity, University of Waterloo's startup incubator, has developed probiotics for plants to improve crop yields by up to 20 per cent, and the company is participating in the Homegrown Innovation Challenge, a research challenge funded by the Weston Family Foundation. 

The challenge aims to increase Canadian food security by increasing produce growth domestically. Ceragen's project group just received $1 million to optimize several aspects of domestic indoor strawberry production, including preserving the summer-quality strawberry taste.

"Our team's goal is to optimize indoor strawberry production to facilitate year-round, local production at cost parity with imported strawberries," said Danielle Rose, Ceragen's co-founder and CEO. 

"Canada imports 80 per cent of our produce, so we are susceptible to supply chain interruptions, and improving Canadian production and supporting local production can ensure that the customer gets better quality produce in a safe manner."

Ceragen joined Velocity shortly after the company was established in 2021. Chief technology officer Matthew Rose said Velocity has been instrumental in advancing the company's business operations, including the development of its initial products.   

"From world-class mentorship, to access to financing, to some of the best lab resources available for startups in North America — Velocity has been instrumental in Ceragen's success to date," Rose said. 

"It would have taken our team significantly longer to go to market without access to laboratory equipment and facilities provided by Velocity, so we are really privileged to have access to such an amazing resource right here in Kitchener-Waterloo." 

About Velocity   

Velocity accelerates entrepreneurs' growth from idea to early-stage start-up and beyond. These founders have access to unmatched resources, collaboration space, funding, and an expansive and experienced network made possible only by the University of Waterloo — Canada's top university for founders. 

In the 15 years since its inception as a University of Waterloo residence, more than 400 Velocity companies have netted more than 26B USD in enterprise value.