Regional Innovation Director Stories

Sparking Connection with Hubba Khatoon, Regional Innovation Director – Prairies

The Prairies’ Food Ecosystem – Where Food, Technology and Innovation Collide 

Hubba Khatoon is a connector with a drive to revolutionize food in Canada. 

The intersection of food, innovation and technology is emerging right in the heart of the Prairies. A region where both large agriculture and emerging tech sectors have the potential to unite and become a fertile ground for food innovation in the country and for the economy.

Bringing these sectors together and actualizing their growth potential can happen by creating a support system around them, or “eco-system”. This ecosystem can be made up of start-ups, corporate partners, venture capitalists, educational institutions, government, media and those who are the incubators, accelerators and community builders. All with one goal of generating sustainable food innovation.

One of those community builders is Hubba Khatoon, CFIN’s Regional Innovation Director – Prairies. Understanding the boundless potential that exists, she has been acting as an advocate, connector, funder and catalyst for innovation and growth in the region. Her experience working with both Calgary Economic Development and Prairies Economic Development Canada, has shown her the transformative influence that arises when diverse perspectives are shared. She has constantly been pushing boundaries and spearheading positive change to integrate cutting-edge technology and sustainable practices.

“I’m energized by the collective community that’s coming together to revolutionize food here in Canada. At CFIN one of my key objectives has been to help companies not only achieve their goals, but help to build strategic partnerships to foster innovation,” said Hubba.

Here are the ecosystem champions Hubba is working with and why these stakeholders are important in actively shaping the future of food:

COMPANIES: The private sector plays a key role within the ecosystem, connecting like-minded organizations to a common purpose.

INVESTORS: Having financial support to propel emerging innovation is critical to its success. Connecting innovators with the right resources can help increase speed to market, growth and ultimately, success.

GOVERNMENT: Support of both the provincial and federal government helps to ensure business and community innovators can thrive ultimately driving economic growth both regionally and nationally.

RESEARCH: With research at the forefront of innovation, it’s outcomes can have global impacts. Having a Canadian research teams within the ecosystem means advancing not only the food sector, but also potential impacts on health and wellness, the environment and economy.

ACADEMIA SUPPORT: The role of education within the ecosystem nurtures the spirit of innovative thinking and encourages the development of future leaders.

At the heart of the ecosystem, CFIN acts as its support system using YODL with its 3,200 members (and growing!) to make connections within and across provinces. It’s also providing programs and funding for Canadian innovation to thrive at home and around the globe.

Here are three companies from the Prairies leveraging the power of the ecosystem:

Saskatoon based Better Cart Analytics is on a mission to help companies like grocers and CPG manufacturers access critical pricing data and competitive intelligence so they can digitally transform, execute data-driven pricing decisions, and unleash their competitive advantage. Grocery remains the largest non-digitized retail segment on Earth; pricing is the number-one drive of consumer purchasing behaviour; and 80% of independent grocers and 70% of CPG manufacturers operate without analytics.

It's AI-driven competitive pricing intelligence solution received funding for a project to revolutionize price analytics and competitive intelligence with pilot partners Fresh City Farms, Jordans Dorset Ryvita, Melitta Canada and Distribution Canada Inc. Read more about their story from founder and CEO, Melanie Morrison.

Calgary based Earthware Reusables was founded to stop billions of single-use takeout containers from being garbage on our streets or entering landfills. Their return-for-reuse takeout container service has stopped approximately 15,000 single-use takeout containers from going in landfills.

They’ve recently received funding to develop durable and UV- resistant hemp reinforced polypropylene composite for vacuum forming of reusable food containers. Read more about their story from founder John MacInnes here.

Calgary based Nutrimeals’ mission is to create a space where healthy eating and convenience co-exist. They offer healthy, ready-to- eat meals incorporating personalized nutrition and fitness requirements and delivers them to customers through a monthly subscription service. Approximately 75 per cent of healthcare spending is to treat chronic disease, which can be linked back to a patient’s diet. Nutrimeals tackles this at the source, helping customers eat healthy.

Through CFIN’s Innovation Booster program they are advancing their Prevision Nutrition program and developing their new online ordering platform. Read more about their story from co-founder Samuel Hale here.