The natural products sector is a sprawling space that exists largely within the food and agriculture industries, encompassing everything from functional foods to animal feed ingredients to green replacements for industrial chemicals.
For Natural Products Canada (NPC), a National organization whose mission is to accelerate commercialization of natural products and technologies, this sector presents an opportunity to invest in companies that have the potential to provide positive benefits for humans, animals and the environment.
“We want to bring companies, research institutes, investors, multinationals, and customers together in order to make the connections that are necessary to commercialize these products and technologies,” said David Gauthier, Vice President Investment for NPC, in an interview with Xtalks.
As for what type of goods the not-for-profit is interested in, any organic molecule coming from a living organism that’s being turned into a product would be eligible. For Gauthier, he notes that while consumers are increasingly demanding products derived from natural sources, investors have been slower to take an interest.
“I think the investor community, broadly speaking, has not gotten their heads around many of these opportunities,” he said. “That’s one message that we’re trying to get across, that there are other interesting things to invest in that are not software and that sort of thing.”
To demonstrate just how interesting the natural products space is, Gauthier points to points to six investments that NPC has made since February 2017.
1) Mazza Innovation – British Columbia
— ET2media (@ET2media) April 2, 2014
What they do: Mazza Innovation’s environmentally-friendly extraction process uses the power of hot water instead of chemicals to get the valuable compounds out of plant-based materials like blueberries.
What makes them interesting: “They have a water extraction technology that is very effective at getting the active ingredients out of plant materials. So, if you think of blueberry extracts or cranberry extracts, they were able to provide those without using any toxic solvents and that’s of great benefit to the industry who is looking for clean label as they bring their products forward.”
2) CanBiocin – Alberta
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What they do: CanBiocin is a supplier of species-specific natural probiotics that optimize the animal immune system and overall health.
What makes them interesting: “Companion animals can also suffer from problems related to an unhealthy balance of microorganisms in their digestive system, but the balance is different from humans. For this reason, Canbiocin has developed species-specific probiotics for various pets to promote overall health.”
3) Island Water Technologies – Prince Edward Island
— Island Water Tech (@IslandWaterTech) April 24, 2019
What they do: Island Water Technologies is a wastewater technology company specializing in modular, solar-powered treatment solutions.
What makes them interesting: “We have invested in a water monitoring company out of Atlantic Canada where they’re using a biosensor to monitor wastewater so that you can take real-time intervention.”
4) Chinova Bioworks – New Brunswick
— Chinova Bioworks (@ChinovaB) February 20, 2017
What they do: Chinova Biowork has developed a preservative based on an ingredient extracted from mushrooms called chitosan. This technology offers broad-spectrum protection against all types of microorganisms including bacteria, yeast, and mold.
What makes them interesting: “It comes from a vegan source, and again, could replace some of the more synthetic chemicals that are currently used as preservatives.”
5) FireRein – Ontario
— FireRein (@FireReinInc) June 5, 2018
What they do: FireRein has developed an alternative to the traditional chemicals used to fight fires. The company’s Eco-Gel is an effective and non-toxic water additive made from bio-renewable and food-grade ingredients.
What makes them interesting: “Made from plant food-based products, you could literally eat this stuff yet it’s knocking back fires better than the competition. Since our investment, FireRein has gone on to attract more capital, signed a significant deal with a major US military supplier, and demonstrated its product in numerous locations with flying colors.”
6) BioTEPP – Quebec
What they do: BioTEPP is a biotechnology company that develops, manufactures and markets environmentally friendly natural bio-pesticides, which reduces the use of chemical pesticides.
What makes them interesting: “Compared to some chemical or synthetic pesticides, biopesticides are often less harmful to the environment, both during manufacturing and when they are applied in the field. BioTEPP uses a virus that kills codling moth, which is a major pest of apple and pear orchards.”
Gauthier will also be attending the upcoming Agri Tech Venture Forum in Toronto, where he has invited to be a member of Meet the Investors panel session. He says this is an opportunity for companies and investors to connect and learn more about each other.
“Ideally, we will be looking at the breadth of different investment models and opportunities, and having each of those investors talk about their experiences, where they’re going, what they’re looking for,” he explains. “The audience and companies in them can learn from that, and maybe tailor their presentations or figure out which investors to approach depending on their specific business model.”
Register to join Gauthier, other investors and feature industry speakers at the Forum on May 15 here.