Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where do I start?
The best place to start is to use our online interactive tool to help you identify which challenge stream is the best fit for your solution.
We invite you to also consult the Applicant Guide for Streams A and B. The Guide is designed to explain the process, the terms and conditions, and include detailed instructions to complete the Application Form.
2. Why is AAFC using a challenge to address food waste?
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is constantly seeking new ways to fuel innovation using all available tools. This challenge opens up the problem-solving process to new innovators who can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to a long-standing and complex issue such as food waste. Challenge Prizes are outcomes-based: they shift the emphasis from paying for eligible costs of an approved project towards paying for results to solve problems.
It is useful to think of Challenge Prizes as an ‘innovation search engine’ with the competition and prizes acting as a catalyst to mobilize new talent from outside traditional communities and to surface new thinking, perspectives, and ideas. While the Challenge is inherently focused on identifying grand winners, the diversity of innovations and potential collaborations that emerge from the process allow for the establishment of a visible and better connected network of innovators working to solve food waste in Canada.
In addition to the challenge, AAFC is also undertaking other initiatives to reduce food waste in Canada, including a $6.3 million investment towards the Federal Leadership in Food Waste Reduction Initiative, through which the government will foster engagement and collaboration around food waste, reduce food waste in federal activities, and facilitate reporting on food loss and waste in Canada.
3. What kind of solutions is the challenge expecting?
For Streams A and B, the challenge is looking for any solution to food loss and waste, across any segment of the food supply chain, that leverages innovation to achieve outcomes identified in the following challenge statements:
STREAM A - Business Models that Prevent Food Waste: Accelerate and scale the deployment of innovative solutions that prevent food waste across the food supply chain.
STREAM B - Business Models that Divert Food Waste: Accelerate and scale the deployment of innovative solutions that create value from food waste, food by-products and/or surplus food.
4. How are you defining food waste and the food supply chain?
For the purpose of this challenge, ‘food waste’ means any type of food loss and waste that occurs at any stage of the food supply chain from farms to consumers. It refers to all food or part of food that is grown, harvested, processed, manufactured or prepared for human consumption, but never eaten by people.
The food supply chain is the network of actors and processes that moves food from production to our tables. This network includes: farms and food production sites; post-harvest handling and storage; food processing and manufacturing facilities; distribution and transportation networks; grocery retail; food service industry such as restaurants and institutional canteens; and consumers at home.
The challenge is looking for any solution to food loss and waste across any segment of the food supply chain from farm to table. However, applicants are encouraged to consider how their solutions interact across multiple segments of the food supply chain (for example: are you transferring the problem from one segment to another?). Solutions that are more holistic in nature, taking into consideration food waste across multiple segments of the supply chain are encouraged.
5. What benefits are there to participating in this challenge?
There are several financial incentives for participating in the challenge: For Streams A and B, based on the concept application, semi-finalists will be awarded approximately $100K in prize funding at the first stage of the challenge, and will be invited to participate in Stage 2. Finalists will receive up to an additional $400K and will be invite to move to Stage 3; and two grand prize winners will receive up to an additional $1.5M at the end of the challenge.
Participation in the challenge not only presents the possibility of receiving new funding for your solution, it is also the opportunity to gain visibility and profile your innovation in Canada and more broadly. It is a chance to have your solution evaluated on its technical and non-technical merits (e.g. business value) by a range of experts. Other non-financial incentives include networking opportunities facilitated by AAFC and capacity building opportunities.
6. Who can apply to the challenge?
Eligibility criteria for challenge prizes are kept broad in order to open up the problem solving space to new players and create the conditions for solutions to be generated from non-traditional actors.
The Food Waste Reduction Challenge is open to businesses and social enterprises of any size; not-for-profit and charitable organizations; Indigenous organizations and groups; post-secondary/academic institutions; as well as individuals or group of individuals. For more details on eligibility criteria, please consult the Applicant Guide for Streams A and B.
7. I have an idea, but I am not currently affiliated with a legally incorporated entity in Canada, am I eligible to apply?
Yes, individuals and groups are eligible to apply. However, if your idea is selected to advance to a prize, in order to receive funding, you will have to incorporate in Canada. For information on federal incorporation in Canada, please check the following link: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/cs06939.html
8. I am a non-Canadian individual/entity, am I eligible to apply?
Yes, international applicants are eligible to apply to the challenge. However, if your idea is selected to advance to a prize, in order to receive funding, you will have to incorporate in Canada. Ideas and concepts can originate from anywhere globally, but to receive funding under the challenge, the solutions presented in the submissions must be developed, tested, piloted, demonstrated, and deployed in Canada. The outcomes/results need to be of benefit to Canadians.
For information on federal incorporation in Canada, please check the following link: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/cs06939.html
9. If I apply as part of a team with someone affiliated with another legal entity, how will funding be awarded?
Grant agreements will be negotiated with the Lead Applicant only. Any arrangements between the Lead Applicant and Team members are strictly the responsibility of the Lead Applicant. AAFC is not liable for any outcome from those arrangements.
10. I received (or currently receive) funding from another government program already, can I apply to the Food Waste Reduction Challenge?
Yes, provided you meet the requirements of both programs and the terms and conditions of your funding agreements. Under the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, there are no stacking limits (i.e. maximum level of total Canadian government funding that is to be permitted for any activity, project, or initiative of a recipient), but applicants would be subject to any applicable stacking limits imposed by other federal, provincial, or municipal funding programs and/or partners. If you have additional questions about funding terms and conditions under the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, please contact us.
11. Can I apply to multiple streams of the challenge? Can I submit multiple applications to the same challenge stream?
Yes, a single applicant can have multiple ideas/solutions and accordingly apply to multiple challenge streams or submit multiple applications to the same challenge stream. However, per challenge stream, only one solution per applicant may be selected. Try our online interactive tool to help you identify for each idea/solution you have, which stream is the best fit for you.
You should not submit multiple applications for the same idea/solution. If you have a technical issue with your application, please contact us.
12. I have already started working on my solution prior to the challenge launch, can I still apply?
Yes, if you have started working on your solution prior to this challenge, you are still eligible to apply. Streams A and B are supporting solutions that have started or are ready for commercialization, to grow in the market and scale up. You should make sure your solution meets the assessment criteria as detailed in the Applicant Guide for Streams A and B. We also recommend you consider and reflect in your application how you can improve the effectiveness, competitiveness, and reach of your solution.
13. Can I apply directly to Stage 2 of the challenge?
No, all applicants have to submit their applications at Stage 1 of the challenge. Only semi-finalists selected at the end of Stage 1 will be competing for Stage 2 funding.
14. I have a solution that is specific to my local context or my own organization, can I apply to the challenge?
Scalability is an important assessment criteria for Streams A and B. While solutions that could be highly effective and impactful in a local context are invited to apply, applicants are required to demonstrate the potential for scaling.
Solutions that are limited to a specific end-user for their own use (e.g. one organization developing a solution to exclusively reduce its own food waste) will not be accepted. Solutions have to be scalable and applicable to numerous end-users.
15. How will winners be selected?
The Applicant Guide contains detailed descriptions of each of the assessment criteria that will be used to assess the quality and viability of submissions to Streams A and B of the challenge.
At each stage of the challenge, an independent and voluntary external review committee composed of subject matter experts (e.g. representatives from private sector, stakeholder groups) will review applications based on the challenge assessment criteria and provide recommendations to support AAFC in determining the semi-finalists, finalists and winners. Additional expertise from other government departments may be sought in the review process, based on application content.
AAFC will ensure that any real or perceived conflict of interest for external review committee members or others involved in the assessment process is disclosed and mitigated, and will execute non-disclosure agreements to protect the confidential information of applicants.
16. How will my Intellectual Property be protected?
Any intellectual property created by a Challenge participant will remain the property of the participant.
AAFC will not disclose information which the participant identifies and consistently treats as being confidential information except where required by law or with the participant’s consent. Should the information provided by the participant be subject to an access to information request, AAFC will treat the participant’s information (such as trade secrets, information of a financial, commercial, scientific or technical nature or information whose disclosure could prevent the securing, patenting or publishing of intellectual property) in accordance with the provisions of the Access to Information Act which namely includes provisions exempting the disclosure of confidential business information.
AAFC will enter into non-disclosure agreements with any external review committee members or others involved in the assessment process to protect the applicants’ confidential business information.
17. If I have other questions, who can I contact?
If you have additional questions, please contact us.