Northern Food Innovation Challenge: Phase 1 - Applicant guide

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.

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Table of contents

What is the Northern Food Innovation Challenge

This challenge is pan-Canadian and open to non-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.

Northern Food Innovation Challenge Logic Model
Text alternative for Northern Food Innovation Challenge Logic Model
  • Challenge Launched
  • Enhanced Public Awareness of a Problem or Issue
  • Process Outcomes
    • New Talent Mobilized
    • Collaborative Networks and Partnerships
  • Sustainable Delivery Model
    • Innovative Products and Services
    • Enhanced Skill and Capacity
    • Increased Investments
  • Greater Public Value
    • Social Benefits
    • Environmental Impacts
    • Economic Improvements

This challenge consists of two phases

Phase 1: Conceptual stage to testing environment

Phase 2: Project scaling and deployment with direct benefits at a local level.

Approximately eight Northern Food Innovation Challenge applicants will be funded under Phase 1 (up to $250,000 per project).

Up to three successful applicants from Phase 1 will be supported with Phase 2 funding (up to $1M per project).

CanNor Northern Food Innovation Challenge
Text alternative for CanNor Northern Food Innovation Challenge
  • Phase 1 Challenge Launched
    • Deadline March 31, 2021
    • Up to $250,000 funding available per project
  • Approximately 8 successful projects selected for funding
    • Conceptual stage
    • Targeted research
    • Community Validation
    • Proof of research
    • Prototype demonstration in operational environment
    • Projects will be invited to participate in a Catalyst Workshop
  • Phase 2
    • February 2023
    • Up to 3 projects from phase 1 selected
    • Up to $1M funding
  • Up to 3 successful projects selected as finalists
    • Phase 1 prototype scaled accordingly
    • Innovation deployed
    • Innovation tested, sustainability analyzed
  • Innovation Showcase
    • 2023

The remainder of this guide provides detailed information for Phase 1 of the Northern Food Innovation Challenge including:

Additional information on CanNor's economic development programs, services and priorities can be found on CanNor's programs and services page.

1. Eligibility Requirements

1.1 Eligible Recipients

The Applicant must be one of the following:

  • A non profit association
  • Indigenous government/beneficiary organization, community-owned economic development corporation or other organization
  • A municipal government
  • A research institution
  • A small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME)

All eligible recipients must either be located in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon, or have a participating partner located in one or more of the territories.

Priority will be given to recipients who can demonstrate proven capacity to deliver projects in the North and interest/engagement in territorial food security.

1.2 Maximum Amount Payable

Maximum Phase 1 non-repayable funding (non profit, Indigenous community-owned economic development corporation, research institution or municipal or Indigenous government) is $250,000.

For-profit applicants or small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) applicants are eligible for up to $100,000 in non-repayable funds OR up to $250,000 in partially repayable funds.

2. Challenge Priority Areas

2.1 Priority Areas

Priority will be 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 will also be considered.

2.2 Key Definitions and Funding Opportunities

Food Production: Plant, breed, care for, harvest, or prepare products for market or human consumption; and to board, care for, breed animals for the purpose of obtaining raw animal products for market or human consumption is applicable to this challenge area.

Food Harvesting: Harvesting country foods and locally grown foods; training or capacity building related to food production or food harvesting is applicable to this challenge area.

Food Processing: Transformation of a raw animal or plant product for market or human consumption; training or capacity building related to food processing is applicable to this challenge area.

Food Distribution/Transportation: Movement of food products to market or for human consumption; training or capacity building related to food distribution/transportation is applicable to this challenge area.

Innovation: Innovation in the territories can be about developing a new product or process, but it can also be about adapting an existing product or process (including a social innovation or innovative service model) to work in the northern climate or in remote areas.

2.3 Project Considerations

To assess whether a project is appropriate for the Northern Food Innovation Challenge, please consider these questions:

  • Does the project develop or introduce a new technology or process (e.g., a social innovation or new service delivery model)?
  • Does the project build capacity or improve an existing technology or process to increase the ability of Northerners to produce, harvest, distribute, transport, or store food including country food?

If the answers to these questions are "No", the project may be a better fit under a different CanNor program.

3. Project Selection Process

3.1 Selection Process

The selection process will identify approximately 8 projects for funding under Phase 1 of CanNor's Northern Food Innovation Challenge.

All applications will be screened for mandatory applicant and project eligibility criteria.

Applications meeting mandatory eligibility criteria will be assessed on a competitive basis to identify projects that will provide strong benefits and have the potential to be scaled and deployed under Phase 2 of the Challenge.

All applicants will be contacted and advised of the outcome, with decisions communicated as they become available.

3.2 Phase 1 Challenge Selection Criteria

Northern Food Innovation Challenge: Phase 1 will be evaluated on the following criteria.

Selection Criteria

  • Will the project have a direct impact on reducing issues related to food insecurity or strengthening food systems in the territories? Priority will be given to proposed projects that address food security in isolated northern communities or other vulnerable populations.
  • What evidence supports this project (e.g. academic research, previous implementation in a northern or remote climate, team experience)?
  • Is the project innovative? Is the project implementing a new or significantly improved product (good or service), process, or a new organizational method in business practices?
  • Are the project activities achievable within the time frames of the project? And at the end of the proposed project, will the proponent be able to implement or scale up their initiative in Phase 2?
  • Are territorial partners involved in the project, either by directly leading the project or through demonstrating direct benefits and responsibilities of the territorial partners involved?
  • Can the proposed project be replicated or scaled to fit other communities across Canada's territories?
  • Does the applicant have the capacity to deliver the project? (e.g., experience, financial leveraging, partnerships, resources)
  • Is the budget reasonable to complete the project as described?

3.3 Request for Additional Information

At any time during the intake and assessment process, a CanNor Officer may contact the applicant for additional information.

3.4 Northern Food Innovation Challenge: Phase 1 – Successful applicants

Applicants who successfully complete the Northern Food Innovation Challenge: Phase 1 will be invited to submit a full application for the Northern Food Innovation Challenge: Phase 2 in 2023. Maximum funding available for Phase 2 is $1M per project.

Note: Receiving Phase 1 funding does not guarantee that the project will be funded in Phase 2.

4. Information for Completing the Application

It is the responsibility of the applicant to complete all sections as accurately and completely as possible. The Northern Food Innovation Challenge: Phase 1 Application contains the following sections:

A description of each section is included below to assist you in completing your application. The sections below correspond with the sections on the Challenge Application.

It is recommended you save your work often, prior to submitting your application to CanNor.

Applicant and Contact Information

Applicant legal name: The legal name is the official name of the organization or business at registration or incorporation. This may be different from the organization's operating name (e.g. Legal Name 123456 Northern Ltd, operating publically as ABC Moving Services).

Project name: Provide a short, clear and concise name describing your project. Please include what the program is about in the title (e.g. Community Food Storage Feasibility Study, Improvements to Food Sharing Program Efficiency, Expansion of Food Distribution System).

Primary contact name: Enter the person authorized to represent the business or organization. This person will be the main point of contact regarding the Challenge application.

Telephone number: Enter the primary contact's telephone number, including the area code.

Email address: Include the direct email address for the primary contact (not a generic email address for the organization).

Applicant business number: The business number is a unique 9-digit number assigned by the Canada Revenue Agency. Enter if applicable.

Applicant Type: This information is important to determine if the applicant is an eligible recipient.

  • Indigenous Government
  • Municipal Government
  • Community owned organization
  • Academic Institution
  • First Nation, Inuit or Metis
  • Non Profit
  • For-Profit
  • Women-owned/controlled business
  • Youth owned/controlled business
  • Social enterprise

Brief description of organization and its mandate: Provide a short description of the organization mandate. This information will be used in part to determine if the applicant has the mandate and capacity to undertake a project of this nature.

Project Information

Project location (community): Provide the name of the community/communities where the project will take place. For projects in multiple communities, identify the number of communities (e.g., 7 Nunavut communities). Note that during Phase 1 the project development may take place in a community outside of where it will be deployed in Phase 2. Please clarify where the work will be done in Phase 1 and where it is planned to take place in Phase 2.

Expected start and end dates: The start and end dates refer to when the projects costs are estimated to start and stop being incurred.

Challenge area(s) of project: Check all Challenge area(s) that apply to the project. If the project is focused in a food security area not listed, check the box labelled 'other' and provide a brief description of the food security area.

What is the food security issue or challenge to be solved? Clearly explain the food security issue or challenge that will be solved by the project.

Describe how the project will solve this food security issue: Briefly describe how Phase 1 of the project will support the feasibility and initial testing of the innovative solution. An example of a potential path for projects funded under this phase includes the following: Moving from conceptual stage, to targeted research, to community validation, to proof of concept, to applied research, to prototype demonstration to testing in operational environment.

How will the project benefit households, communities and the territory? Why should CanNor invest in this project? Explain how the project's anticipated outcomes (results) will benefit northern households, communities and more broadly, a territory. If the proposed product, service or process is already available or offered by another organization or private sector company, describe how the project will add additional benefits, including new or expanded market potential.

What is innovative about the project: Clearly describe how and why the project is innovative. If the innovation is being used in other regions and the project's focus is to adapt the innovation for a northern climate or remote area, describe how it is currently being used and why it will be unique in the territories.

Briefly describe the research (community-based or academic knowledge) that supports the project: Describe the scientific, Indigenous and/or local knowledge that has informed the project's focus (food innovation need or opportunity), design, and/or activities.

Table: Phase 1 Project Activities and Timeline:

Provide a clear description and timeline for the main activities to be completed in Phase 1. In each row, include a brief description of the activity, expected completion date (month/year) and expected outcomes (results).

If Phase 1 is successful, what are the proposed outcomes for Phase 2? Briefly describe the expected outcomes (results) to be achieved if the project moves to Phase 2 (project deployment stage). Describe what or who will change, and when those changes are expected to occur (immediately, in the short-term or over a longer time period). Be as specific as possible.

Examples of specific outcomes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Amount of increase in food storage capacity per household or community;
  • Number of participants trained in food production, harvesting or preserving;
  • Expanded market access for distribution and sale of food products;
  • Amount of increased access to food per household or individual; and/or
  • Amount of increased knowledge around access, preparation and storage of food.

Identify the project's territorial, community, Indigenous, academic institutions and/or industry supporters: List the project's confirmed community, territorial or private industry supporters (non-financial in nature). If applicable, explain how regional or community-based partnerships will be developed as a result of the project. Note: Letters of support are required from project supporter(s) if Phase 1 is not taking place in one of the territories.

Forecasted Project Costs and Funding Sources

Total project cost: Enter the total project cost (round up to the nearest full dollar amount).

Amount requested from CanNor: Enter the amount of funding requested from CanNor (round to the nearest full dollar amount). Review the maximum payable amounts to ensure the amount does not exceed allowable limits.

Budget: The project budget information is to be entered on a separate document called the Budget Annex A worksheet. You will complete two tables on the worksheet: Sources of Funds and Uses of Funds.

The project budget is to include all costs directly related to the project. The project budget will be assessed for its reasonableness in comparison to similar projects, as well as the proposed equity and partner contributions. Phase 1 projects can be up to two years in length.

Should the project be approved for funding, all project costs must be incurred within the timeframe specified in the Agreement. Do not include 'in-kind' contributions in the budget document.

Sources of Funds

In the first column of the table, identify the project's funding partners (all sources that are expected to contribute financially to the project) and whether or not funding has been confirmed. Partner financial contributions do not need to be confirmed at this time, but will need to be confirmed if the project is approved for funding.

  • CanNor: Indicate how much funding you are seeking from CanNor. Priority may be given to applicants that provide a higher leveraging ratio (i.e., where applicants are seeking a lower contribution from CanNor relative to total project costs).
  • Applicant: This represents the dollar value contribution made by you or your organization to the project. Do not include in-kind contributions (non-monetary contribution of goods, services, equipment or time) that you will be providing to the project.
  • Territorial partner: This represents the dollar value contribution made by a territorial partner to the project. Do not include in-kind contributions that the partner will be providing to the project. Note: If the applicant is located in one of the territories, it is not necessary to have a territorial partner.
  • Additional Funders: Use the additional funder rows to identify additional funders for your project, including government and/or private sector. Confirmation of funding is not required at this time. Do not include in-kind contributions that the additional partners will be providing to the project.

Total: Check to ensure the total anticipated funding from all sources equals total project costs.

Uses of Funds

All project costs must be identified using the categories listed in the Uses of Funds table.

For each cost category, identify the total cost (total project budget), the amount of funds requested from CanNor for the cost category, and the amount remaining to be funded by others (the applicant or other funding partners). In the detailed budget description section, provide a breakdown of the type of costs expected in this cost category.

The table below identifies CanNor's cost categories with examples costs for each category.

Advertising and Promotion Cost of printing, ad space, tradeshow participation and internet (e.g., brochures, conference displays, advertisements)
Capital Purchases of machinery and equipment, buildings and engineering that requires amortization
Contract/Professional Fees Fees paid to individuals who are not employed by the organization (e.g., bookkeeping, consulting, legal, engineering) NOTE: List of amounts for each type of professional; quotes or RFPs should be attached if applicable
Entertainment Cultural/traditional demonstrations music, dancers as related to project
Facility and Equipment Rental Equipment rentals, conference and meeting rooms
Freight Postal, shipping and courier services
Honouraria Payment for a service to individuals not in receipt of a full time salary or who suffers a loss of regular income when attending. A declaration from the individual receiving honoraria confirming that they are not in receipt of salary is required. NOTE: Honouraria are generally not supported by CanNor, but should be included if an overall project cost
Hospitality Costs for food as applicable for workshops, conferences, events. Note: Alcohol is not an eligible expense.
Information Systems Licensing, database and software
Insurance Costs directly attributable to the project
Interest and bank charges Charges from financial institutions, directly attributable to the project
License/Permits/Memberships Membership to professional associations or permits related to building or development
Materials and Supplies Consumables that would be used throughout the course of the project (e.g., stationary, ink)
Salaries, Wages and Benefits Salaries, hourly wages and employee benefits
Training Course fees for skills and development, attendance at or participation in professional development programs, conferences, workshops, seminars, events and meetings
Translation Fees Direct costs for translation of publications and/or reports for public consumption
Travel Expenses may include transportation, accommodation, meals or per diems. NOTE: Details of potential locations and estimation of costs should be included. Government rates and allowances should be used to determine amounts for mileage, per diems and accommodation.
Utilities Energy costs, telephone costs, internet service provided costs
Total: Be sure the total project budget at the bottom of the table equals the total project budget in the Sources of Funds table. Also check to ensure the Total CanNor request is the same as the CanNor total project budget in the Sources of Funds table.

In-Kind Contribution (table)

List all in kind contributions from project partners, including the value of the contribution.


All projects contain risk (uncontrollable aspects of the project such as weather, innovation risk, unconfirmed funding from other sources) that could lead to the project being delayed or not completed successfully.

For each identified risk, identify the activity associated with the risk, a brief description of the risk and mitigation strategies to reduce or eliminate the risk from becoming a reality.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Government of Canada is committed to equality and diversity so that all Canadians have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the growth of the economy. Providing answers to the questions in the table below will not adversely affect your application. If your organization does not meet the definitions provided or you do not wish to declare your status, please leave the fields blank.

Supporting Material Checklist

Check all information provided in this section for accuracy and completeness. Verify you have included all mandatory documents and any of the additional supporting documents as applicable with your application.

Mandatory: Check to confirm submission of each of the mandatory documents

As Applicable: Check all that apply

Other Considerations

Amounts Owing: if the organization/business or owner owes money to the Government of Canada (such as income, business or property taxes, sales taxes, payroll deductions, etc.) this amount must be repaid before new funding can be provided.

Environmental or Regulatory Requirements: Projects must be able to conform to regulatory and environmental legislation. Requirements waiting for approval are a risk to the project (for timing and possible denial). You may append an additional sheet to the application to describe any regulatory requirements impacted by your project and the status of these processes. Ensure this document is listed under other documents.

Intellectual Property
Check to confirm you have read and agree with the Intellectual Property statement provided below.

The recipient owns all intellectual property arising out of the Project. However, the recipient grants to CanNor a non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide and irrevocable license to use, copy, translate or distribute materials arising out of the Project for government purposes. Where CanNor translates materials arising out of the Project, CanNor owns the intellectual property in the translation.

All proprietary data, commercially sensitive information and potentially valuable results or ideas will be treated in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

These laws govern, protect and limit the collection, use and disclosure of personal and confidential information by federal government departments and agencies.


Provide the legal name and title of the person who is authorized to represent the organization. If the person is not a signing officer of the company, confirmation of that person's right to represent the company may be required.

Please follow the following steps to submit your application.

For any questions about this challenge, please don't hesitate to contact us by email at, or reach out to one of our regional offices by phone.

Regional Office

Iqaluit, Nunavut

Tel: 867-975-3757

Northwest Territories
Regional office

Yellowknife, NWT

Tel: 867-669-2608

Regional Office

Whitehorse, Yukon

Tel: 867-667-3346

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