Northern Food Innovation Challenge
The application period for Phase 1 of the Northern Food Innovation Challenge closed on March 31, 2021. The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) is no longer accepting applications for this challenge.
Table of contents
The Northern Food Innovation Challenge is one of three streams under the Northern Isolated Community Initiatives (NICI) Fund.
The objective of this Challenge is to support innovative, community-led projects for local and Indigenous food production systems to help improve food security in Canada's territories.
This challenge consists of two phases:
Phase 1: Conceptual stage to testing environment.
- Approximately eight Northern Food Innovation Challenge applicants will be funded under Phase 1 (up to $250,000 per project).
Phase 2: Project scaling and deployment with direct benefits at a local level.
- Up to three successful applicants from Phase 1 will be supported with Phase 2 funding (up to $1M per project).
Food Security in Canada's territories
Text alternative for Figure 1. Percentage of food insecure households in Canada, provinces and territories, 2017-2018 (modified from Statistics Canada)
|Province or Territory||Percentage of Food Insecure Households|
|Prince Edward Island||13.9|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||14.8|
- According to Statistics Canada's 2017-2018 Canadian Community Health Survey, the territories face a higher rate of food insecurity than the rest of Canada. The survey showed that household food insecurity was 57% in Nunavut, 21.6% in the Northwest Territories, and 16.9% in Yukon.
- Women, children, and Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity with substantial impacts on health and well-being. Indigenous peoples are at a higher risk of food insecurity due to many reasons – including forced relocation and residential schools – that disrupted their connection to traditional food systems. This disruption has negatively affected intergenerational knowledge transfer of harvesting and hunting skills, and of healthy eating habits.
- There are interconnected factors that contribute to the high cost of food and food insecurity in the territories. The remoteness and isolation of communities contribute to a high cost of living, socio-economic status (e.g. poverty, high unemployment), and the high costs of transportation and labour all impact the cost and accessibility of food. Territorial food systems face unique challenges and opportunities. In the territories, food systems are comprised of three interrelated areas: the market system (i.e. market or imported foods), the country food system (i.e. harvesting and sharing traditional/ wild foods), and an emerging system of locally grown foods (i.e. community greenhouses, small scale farms, and farmers markets). The prevalence of these interrelated areas and the cultural importance of country foods to Indigenous communities requires innovative solutions to address food security issues in the territories.
- For more information on food security in Canada's territories, please view:
About the Challenge
- This challenge is pan-Canadian and open to not-for-profits, Indigenous governments and economic development corporations, municipal governments, academic institutions and small- and medium-sized enterprises. This challenge empowers territorial communities to adopt strategies to improve the lives of their residents through increasing food security.
Key Challenge Areas
Priority is being given to projects that use innovative solutions that work in a northern or remote climate, can be deployed in the territories, and address one or more of the following areas:
- Food Production/Harvesting
- Food Processing
- Food Distribution/Transportation
Projects related to innovative training and capacity building in these areas are also being considered.
Priority is being given to proposed projects that address food security in Indigenous communities or other vulnerable populations.
The Challenge is for:
- not-for-profit associations;
- Indigenous governments, community-owned economic development corporations or other organizations;
- municipal governments;
- academic institutions; and
- small-and-medium-sized enterprises.
Applicants located outside of the territories were encouraged to apply provided that they had a territorial partner and could demonstrate how the proposed innovation could provide direct benefits to reducing issues related to food insecurity or strengthening food systems in one or more of the territories.
- Funding for project costs up to $250,000 for successful applicants in Phase 1.
- Final Innovators will be eligible for up to $1 million to deploy their project in Phase 2.
- Access to northern experts and CanNor support to shepherd project development through pathfinding and mentorship.
- Challenge Launch: January 26, 2021
- Challenge Deadline: March 31, 2021
- Phase 1 Innovators announced (approximately eight innovators chosen from all applicants): Summer 2021
- Catalyst Workshop Summer / early Fall 2021
- Phase 2 finalists announced (up to three successful applicants from Phase 1 will be chosen as finalists): 2023
- Innovation Showcase Spring 2023
For more information
Please view the Applicant Guide for more detailed information on Phase 1 of the Northern Food Innovation Challenge.
If you have any questions about this challenge, please contact us by email at email@example.com, or reach out to one of our regional offices by phone.