Driving genomics research for Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector

Guelph, ON - The Ontario Regional Priorities Partnership Program (ON-RP3) is supporting Ontario-focused, industry-academic partnership projects that will positively impact Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector.

The eight successful ON-RP3 project teams were announced last week at the 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC). Preliminary research results were presented by one of the successful project teams, George Van der Merwe, University of Guelph, who is partnering on a project with Escarpment Laboratories.

"With this project, we will be able to give our brewery partners access to genomic and metabolomic information they can use to know ahead of time how to work with every yeast strain, and the impact of different process variables like temperature on the flavour outcomes of their beer,” said Richard Preiss, Co-founder/Co-Owner, Escarpment Laboratories. “This work may also lead to a better understanding of the complex genetics underlying yeast aroma production. This project will help Ontario businesses become leaders in the increasingly competitive craft brewing industry, driving enhanced creativity and improved consistency."

The funding is supporting proof-of-concept stage projects that will deliver genomics/genomics-derived technologies, tools and processes to provide solutions to industry-identified challenges or opportunities within the sector. ON-RP3 will help industry take applied research to the implementation and commercialization stages. These solutions will be implemented by 2024.

In total, eight projects are being funded across Ontario through a $2M investment by the AAC and Ontario Genomics (through Genome Canada). This investment is leveraging $975,000 in industry contributions, for a total of over $2.95 M to drive genomics-derived technologies, tools and processes to create more jobs and grow the Ontario economy.

“Agri-food companies and organizations from across Ontario have identified challenges and partnered with academic research teams to help advance genomics research and drive implementation for genomics-based solutions,” said Chris Heimstra, who was elected Chair of AAC in a board meeting following the AGM. “The Ontario agri-food sector is well positioned for growth and these successful industry-academic partnerships will help create new opportunities that will benefit the entire sector.”

“Genomics technology and innovation are absolutely crucial for the continued growth of Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector. By bringing industry and researchers together, these eight projects will create more jobs, keep Ontario competitive and provide amazing growth opportunities for Ontario’s farmers and our rural economy,” said Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics. “Ontario Genomics is proud that this investment brings our total support of this sector to over $73 M and maintains our commitment to investing in promising research and industry solutions across the province.”

“The Regional Priorities Partnership Program (RP3) is unique in that it directly supports the regional Genome Centres in developing initiatives that advance genomics research and translation in areas of strategic priority in different parts of Canada,” said Marc LePage, President and CEO, Genome Canada. “This means that in addition to this funding being important to the genomics ecosystem as a whole, every dollar invested in these eight projects will work to grow Ontario’s economy and improve the lives of Ontarians.”  

This investment into agriculture and agri-food genomics research, coupled with industry’s ongoing commitment to technology development and commercialization, is playing an increasingly important part in a changing Ontario economy. This funding will capitalize on Ontario’s broad agricultural production, its cutting-edge innovation and manufacturing capacity, its globally recognized research expertise, and on its diverse and highly skilled workforce.

Quick Facts

Additional Quotes

“As Canada’s food university, the University of Guelph is absolutely delighted by this phenomenal support from Ontario Genomics and the Agricultural Adaptation Council for seven University of Guelph collaborative projects. This support will reinforce University of Guelph's tremendous agri-food sector partnerships to generate discoveries and innovations that will improve life in this province and well beyond. Our world-class genomics researchers are turning ideas into solutions to feed people in healthy, safe, and sustainable ways.”

– Malcolm M. Campbell, Professor & Vice-President Research, University of Guelph

“Trent University is excited and honoured to be one of the eight successful projects selected for the ON-RP3 program for agriculture and agri-food innovations in Ontario. We are grateful to the AAC and Ontario Genomics for backing our partnership that will leverage our laboratory’s plant chemistry academic research with the cropping industry’s needs for greater yields.  The honing of our novel biofertilizer for Ontario agricultural conditions is a great example of advancing scientific discovery towards positive economic, social and environmental outcomes. At time when climate change threatens food production, food security and the livelihoods of those in the agricultural sector, cross-sector collaboration between academia, industry and government can make a significant difference in society.”

- Dr. Neil Emery, VP Research & Innovation, Trent University

“Semex has benefitted from ON-RP3 funding by providing the additional funding required to study and develop digital transformation tools in the dairy industry. The use of digital sensors will provide an array of 24x7 phenotypes that are closer to the underlying biology of animals. This will help us develop health and welfare traits with higher heritabilities and greater benefits for animals and dairy farms globally.”

- Michael Lohuis, PhD, Vice President, Research & Innovation, Semex Alliance

“Ferrero uses only the highest quality hazelnuts in our consumer products. We are pleased to collaborate with Ontario Genomics, Agricultural Adaptation Council, University of Guelph and the Gosling Institute for Plant Preservation as they work toward understanding and developing high quality hazelnut trees adapted to Ontario growing conditions. These activities are key and support Ferrero’s objective to source local hazelnuts wherever possible.”

- Barb Yates, Agronomist, Ferrero Canada

Agricultural Adaptation Council

Laura Feil

Programs Lead & Communications Manager


Ph. 519-829-8626 ext. 629

Ontario Genomics

Polina Martins Director, Communications


Ph. 416-673-6589

Twitter: @adaptcouncil; @OntarioGenomics; @GenomeCanada

Agricultural Adaptation Council is a not-for-profit organization with a membership of 67 Ontario agricultural, agri-food and rural organizations. Since 1995, AAC has established an outstanding level of customer service and program delivery that is efficient, flexible and accountable, focusing on the agriculture and agri-food industry.

Ontario Genomics is a not-for-profit organization leading the application of genomics-based solutions across key sectors of the economy to drive economic growth, improved quality of life and global leadership for Ontario. We connect scientists, ideas and partner organizations for collaborative investment opportunities for our vision of healthy lives, healthy economy and healthy planet through genomics innovations. Since inception in 2000, OG has leveraged $2.6B for genomics research and innovation for Ontario and directly supported more than 9,100 jobs.

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization that invests in genomic science and technology and its translation into applications across multiple sectors to produce social and economic benefits for all Canadians. Genome Canada acknowledges the continued support of the Government of Canada. For more information, please visit www.genomecanada.ca.