SFU’s RADIUS Slingshot program to boost B.C.’s sustainable food industry
By Ross MacDonald-Allan
Insect-based protein powder, First Nations tea blends, and home-delivered healthy snack boxes are just some of the local food-related ventures that will receive a jump-start from their inclusion in Simon Fraser University’s third annual RADIUS Ventures Slingshot Accelerator.
The intense six-month cohort program for high-impact ventures is run by RADIUS, a social innovation lab and venture incubator based at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.
There is no requirement that the participating ventures have any previous connection to SFU.
The program is designed to take growth-ready social ventures to the next level, and members of the 2014-15 Slingshot cohort have already achieved 50 per cent revenue growth relative to their pre-RADIUS baseline.
This year’s cohort, supported by program partners Vancity Credit Union and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), will focus solely on B.C.’s sustainable food sector.
“The 2015 RADIUS Ventures Slingshot cohort for the first time represents innovative solutions to societal problems focusing on one specific industry,” says Donovan Woollard, director of RADIUS Ventures.
“Every one of these ventures represents a radical transformation of our food system towards local ownership and positive impact.”
Ventures participating in the 2015-16 Slingshot cohort include:
- Amoda Tea, an e-commerce venture that delivers monthly tea boxes consisting of natural teas, organic matcha, and super-food blends from small-batch tea makers across North America.
- The Capilano Tea House and Botanical Soda Company infuses traditional local First Nations blends with traditional global tea varietals.
- Coast Proteins uses modern sustainable processes to cultivate crickets—an ancient staple protein source—for use in flour- and protein powder-based products.
- Heilu, an inexpensive, nutritious and sustainable powdered protein made from Black Soldier fly larvae.
- Naked Snacks, an e-commerce company that delivers nutritious, affordable and delicious snack creations across Canada.
- Thirsty Whale Elixers, offering shrub syrups made from local ingredients for homemade sodas and cocktails.
- Zero Waste Market, Canada’s first package-free grocery store designed to tackle all aspects of food-related waste.
“Vancity’s work with RADIUS has produced some impressive solutions to social and environmental challenges over the last two years, and we are excited to see the fruits of this year’s sustainable food-focused cohort’s labours,” says William Azaroff, vice-president of community investment at Vancity.
“We are delighted to support the entrepreneurs who have created these innovative businesses in the local, sustainable food sector, and look forward to continuing to work with RADIUS on similar radical ideas in the future,” says Craig Ryan, director of corporate social responsibility at BDC.
Over the next six months the cohort will be immersed in design thinking, lean start-up methodology, and hands-on mentorship and collaboration in order to prepare their ventures for growth and investment.
RADIUS is an integral component of SFU Innovates, the University’s recently launched innovation and entrepreneurship strategy.
“SFU devotes considerable energy, knowledge and resources to support local ventures in delivering benefits to British Columbians—innovative products and technologies, sustainable companies and jobs, and ultimately a stronger, more diverse economy,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research.
“We all stand to gain from the collision of talent, technology and transformative ideas that results from extending SFU Innovates programs to outside entrepreneurs.”