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New college program geared toward food, beverage innovators with product ideas

Applications now being accepted and 25 participants across Simcoe County will be chosen to participate in 12-week Food Venture Program
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Georgian College’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) is taking note that more and more consumers are shifting toward healthier, authentic, local and sustainable choices. With this growing trend in food consumption, new opportunities are opening up for entrepreneurs, as well as innovative manufacturers.

One such opportunity is the 12-week Food Venture Program available through HBEC. It’s geared toward food and beverage innovators with a food or product idea, restaurant owners seeking to turn recipes into packaged goods, early-stage entrepreneurs with a product in small-scale distribution, and entrepreneurs with business ideas in the nutrition and health sector.

The program was developed with the help of a variety of stakeholders and partners, including Georgian’s Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation, and the County of Simcoe. Together they developed a Simcoe County Food Security Framework to guide co-ordinated actions that reduce household food insecurity and enhance community food security.

Applications are now being accepted and 25 participants across Simcoe County will be chosen to participate.

“This unique program aligns with the county’s goals and commitment to building healthy, sustainable communities and supporting our businesses,” said County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell. “As an innovative region, Simcoe County is home to a wide variety of local producers with many outstanding examples of small businesses offering sustainable products from within our area.

"We thank our partners for joining us in supporting this Food Venture Program, and ultimately assisting aspiring entrepreneurs in improving our food security and growing our economy.”

Programs like Food Venture provide entrepreneurs with tools that will help them learn and apply these resources to their product development process. They enable local food entrepreneurs to support community-based food security initiatives.

Kiran Bains and Sima Gandhi, co-founders of the Food Venture Program, are excited and looking forward to creating new partnerships to support food entrepreneurs in our community.

"Since the launch of Food Venture Program in January 2020, we quickly had to pivot to focus on helping restaurant owners and current food product owners pivot their business models to help them continue to be successful throughout the pandemic,” said Bains. “Since our launch, we've graduated over 200 food entrepreneurs from just Ontario alone."

Bains and Gandhi have also seen many new food entrepreneurs coming to the surface over the past year and have specifically loved working with entrepreneurs at HBEC.

“As we strengthen partnerships across Simcoe County and build the food entrepreneurial network, we foster safe landing opportunities for local high-quality, sustainable and consumer packaged goods in stores,” said Sara Bentham, Director, Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre. “Together, we’re promoting healthy eating, food security and awareness around the county, across Central Ontario and throughout Canada.”

The program runs in partnership with The Small Business Enterprise Centre of Barrie, Orillia and Simcoe County, The South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre, Community Futures South Georgian Bay, Nottawasaga Futures and The Orillia CDC.

If you’re looking to get your recipe, product or idea ready for market, this is the perfect opportunity. The deadline for applications is Nov. 8. Apply now by clicking here.