Foundation series

Weston Family Foundation Announces Expert Jury for $33 Million Local Innovation Challenge

TORONTO – The Weston Family Foundation selected an international panel of expert judges for its $33 million Local Innovation Challenge. The panel will be chaired by Dominic Barton, former chair of Canada’s Economic Growth Advisory Council.

The Homegrown Innovation Challenge was launched on February 8, 2022 to catalyze innovation by providing solutions to solve the interconnected challenges that currently impede off-season production of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada. Challenge participants are invited to create market-ready systems for growing berries year-round in Canada at a commercially viable scale. Teams that successfully complete the challenge could receive up to $8 million in funding from the Weston Family Foundation.

The independent jury appointed by the Weston Family Foundation includes the following members:

“Collectively, our panel members bring a wealth of experience in food systems innovation and will be instrumental in helping teams conceptualize and commercialize locally grown and sustainable food production solutions,” said Emma Adamo, President of the Weston Family Foundation.
“We are grateful to each member for their time and commitment to ensuring the best innovations are discovered throughout the challenge.”

The Weston Family Foundation expects a wide range of ideas to come from Homegrown Innovation Challenge entries. Based on the pre-defined judging criteria, the jury will use its expertise and experience to select the strongest candidates. The primary objective of these criteria is to evaluate the system developed, and not just the berries produced, to arrive at solutions applicable to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

“Canada is well positioned to be a world leader in agricultural innovation and create a more sustainable and resilient food system,” said jury chair Dominic Barton. “The Homegrown Innovation Challenge is an exciting opportunity, and I am honored to lead this panel of prestigious colleagues in finding creative solutions to a global problem.”

The Six-Year Challenge takes place in several phases. The first phase of the Spark Award will see the selection of 15 innovators, each receiving up to $50,000 to support their concept development, building a team, completing their full application, and more. The Spark Awards are not mandatory, and teams that do not apply for one or are unsuccessful in their application can still apply for the Shepherd Phase Global Challenge.

Teams can submit their Spark Prize requests until the deadline of May 3, 2022 (12:00 p.m. ET).

Learn more about the criteria and application process and register for the informational webinar on April 13 at 1:00 p.m. EST at

About the Local Innovation Challenge
With funding and support from the Weston Family Foundation, the $33 million Homegrown Innovation Challenge aims to spark creative solutions and encourage new ideas to boost the sustainable production of fruits and vegetables in Canada.

Over six years, eligible teams will go through a series of funded phases as they create, test and refine their systems to grow berries out of season and at scale, leading to the selection of a winner. global and a technological breakthrough winner. The winning team could receive up to $8 million in funding. By solving the interrelated challenges that currently prevent year-round berry production on a commercial scale, the Homegrown Innovation Challenge will catalyze a range of systems relevant to a wide range of fruit and vegetable crops in Canada and around the world, dramatically increasing food availability and food system resilience in a climate-changing world.

About the Weston Family Foundation
At The Weston Family Foundation (formerly The W. Garfield Weston Foundation), more than 60 years of philanthropy have taught us that there is a connection between healthy landscapes and healthy people. That’s why we champion world-class health research and innovation with the same passion that we support initiatives to protect and restore biodiversity in our unique landscapes. We take a collaborative approach to philanthropy, working alongside forward-thinking partners to move Canada forward and create lasting impacts. We aspire to do more than provide funding; we want to empower others to find transformational ways to improve the well-being of Canadians.