Oilseed Innovation Partners Fund Supports Student Entrepreneurs at U of G
Photo: Bachelor of Commerce Graduate Jonah Greenburg received $5,000 from the Oilseed Innovation Partners Entrepreneurship Fund to start his company Grand Finishing Systems Inc
Donors to the University of Guelph (U of G) continue to drive business innovation and world class learning opportunities for students all with the goal of enhancing the student experience and improving life.
Nowhere has this been more evident than with the creation of the Oilseed Innovation Partners Entrepreneurship Fund. The fund was established through a legacy gift from Oilseed Innovation Partners (OIP), a non-profit organization dedicated to creating new bioscience opportunities for Canadian oilseeds innovation by donating their proceeds toward entrepreneurship initiatives.
Situated within the John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (Wood Centre), the Oilseed Innovation Partners Entrepreneurship Fund is available to U of G startups enrolled in the Centre’s Hub Incubator program who have a business idea associated with the Canadian oilseed industry. The fund supports startups interested in developing a process, product or technology associated with a Canadian oilseed variety which includes soybeans, sunflower, peanut, and canola products.
With additional financial support provided by the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics (Lang School), the fund totals $100,000 that will be distributed to startups over a ten-year period.
“This philanthropic gift is intended to create business development opportunities for aspiring student ‘agri’-preneurs at the University of Guelph,” said Rich Moccia, Board Chair of the Oilseed Innovation Partners and U of G professor. “The funding is a great example of how multi-disciplinary collaboration and community partners can invest in the next generation of student innovators to take positive steps toward addressing the complex problems facing society and the planet.”
Since its inception in 2019, the fund has disbursed nearly $15,000 to student entrepreneurs on campus.
Previous fund recipients include Fifth Bean, a soy-based liqueur startup and Happy Era, a startup that produces ready-to-eat whole foods that contribute to the circular economy.
In 2021, Bachelor of Commerce student and Hub Incubator program participant Jonah Greenburg received $5,000 to fund his business Grand Finishing Systems Inc., manufacturer and marketer of sustainable wood finishing solutions made from plant-based oils. His focus on creating products from raw, natural materials ensures that his high-quality and effective products are safe to use and environmentally friendly.
The funding Jonah received through the Fund allowed him to combine his passion for cleantech and his business education into an idea that is forging a new path in eco-conscious wood finishing products. For a young entrepreneur like Jonah, access to this type of startup funding was essential to his business in order to grow and scale. His all-natural wood finishing products can now be found on select store shelves across Canada and in his online store.
The establishment of the Oilseed Innovation Partners Entrepreneurship Fund within the Wood Centre at the Lang School of Business is a wonderful example of how a philanthropic gift and multidisciplinary collaboration can breed innovation within the agri-business sector. With their gift, OIP has created a lasting legacy at the University of Guelph which will continue their work to promote the use of Canadian oilseeds while directly investing in the next generation of student entrepreneurs. For students like Jonah, startup funding like the grant he received from the Fund was instrumental in allowing him to expand the reach of his business and unlock his potential.
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