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York U to help food entrepreneurs in the COVID era

Eight food and beverage brands have been selected to participate in the five-week program

Shutterstock/Tyler OlsonShutterstock/Tyler Olson

A new university-affiliated program in Ontario is preparing to help entrepreneurs scale up their food businesses despite the challenges of the COVID era.

A company that makes chocolate snacks, a maker of a non-dairy oat drink (Oat Canada), a gluten-free bakery (Leo & Co.) and a maker of Asian-inspired energy bites (Nufs) will be among the eight participants in the five-week program managed by York University.

The food and beverage accelerator program has received funding from several levels of government and led by YSpace, an innovation hub run by York University.

YSpace’s David Kwok says the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for the program because business owners are concerned about the survival of smaller retailers that would sell their products.

Kwok says entrepreneurs are also concerned about the increasing cost of operating production facilities and research labs because of the need for personal protective equipment and redesigned workstations.

The food and beverage accelerator program has received funding from a variety of sources including from federal and provincial programs, the regional municipality of York, and the cities of Vaughan and Markham, Ont.

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