The Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance (the Alliance) is a collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph.

Through the Alliance, OMAFRA and University of Guelph work together to advance research and innovation that:

  • contributes to the success and competitiveness of the province’s agri-food sector
  • promotes rural economic development

Alliance agreement

In 2018, OMAFRA and University of Guelph renewed the agreement governing the Alliance with a commitment of up to ten years. The programming in this agreement supports the intellectual capacity, infrastructure and networks that produce, synthesize, transfer and invest in world-class research, innovation, laboratory testing and veterinary capacity.

Research, laboratory and veterinary capacity programs supported by the Alliance continue to ensure Ontarians have access to healthy, safe food and that farmers and businesses have the information needed to be competitive and sustainable. The collaborative efforts work to usher in the next generation of agri-food innovations by supporting people, places and programs.

The desired outcomes for the agreement are:

  • transparency and public confidence in the agri-food sector through the protection of public, animal and plant health, the environment and Ontario's economy
  • the tools and ability to respond to emergencies quickly and effectively within the agri-food sector
  • an effective research and innovation system to achieve assurance in food safety, to protect animal, plant and public health and the environment, to grow Ontario's capacity to produce food and to support a globally and domestically competitive agri-food sector
  • development of future skilled capacity to be ready for employment opportunities offered by the agri-food sector and rural Ontario, including highly qualified veterinary capacity in place to meet Ontario's needs
  • growth of third-party investment in agri-food and rural research, innovation and development and data focused initiatives
  • increased sharing and access to data to facilitate new agri-food and rural research and data analytics to inform government decision-making

Funding programs

Research Program (tier I to IV)

The Research Program is a main component of the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance and provides funds for research projects that support the agreement and strategic outcomes, including:

  • achieving assurance in food safety
  • protecting animal, plant and public health and the environment
  • growing Ontario's capacity to produce food
  • supporting a globally and domestically competitive agri-food sector

There are two types of research supports provided. Research project funding comes in the form of either project operating funding (Tier I) and/or access to research stations, technical staff and resources (Tiers II to V). The University of Guelph administers the Alliance Research Program and makes recommendations on funding awards to OMAFRA.

Tier I

Tier I research funding advances OMAFRA evidence-informed priorities that support strong rural communities, keep our food safe and develop a prosperous, environmentally sustainable agri-food sector in Ontario.

Tier II to V

Tier II provides subsidized access to OMAFRA-supported technicians and research centres. Tier II projects must address OMAFRA research priorities.

Tier III provides subsidized access to OMAFRA-supported technicians and research stations. Tier III projects differ from Tier II projects because they are not required to meet OMAFRA funding priorities. Instead, these projects must address broader government priorities, such as those deemed to meet federal or provincial “public good” priorities.

Tier IV provides industry partners non-subsidized access to OMAFRA-supported technicians and research centres. Tier IV funding grants users access to the requested research centre or resources but does not provide funding to subsidize access fees.

Learn more about the Tier II to IV Research Programs.

Knowledge Translation and Transfer Program

The Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT) Program aims advance research in the field of KTT and to accelerate the transfer of research knowledge into use.

The program is designed to:

  • advance the synthesis, exchange, application and dissemination of research knowledge
  • explore the science of KTT to identify KTT best practices
  • use and evaluate KTT methods and best practices to support the awareness and impact of research knowledge

In addition to the main KTT program, there exists a KTT Mobilization Initiatives Program. This provides one-time financial support of up to $5,000 for a product that translates and transfers research that benefits Ontario’s agri-food sector or rural communities.

Highly Qualified Personnel Program

The Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Program supports the development of highly skilled graduates of the agri-food and rural sector. It provides scholarships for master’s and doctoral students working in program areas that relate to OMAFRA priorities.

HQP students complete a work semester with a government, industry or community partner that advances the student's research interests and future career goals.

Gryphon’s Leading to the Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research Program

Gryphon’s Leading to the Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research (GLAAIR) program was launched in 2014 to help identify commercialization opportunities associated with innovative technologies. The program addresses gaps and overcome barriers to the application and commercialization of technologies in the Ontario agri-food and rural sectors. It takes research and uses it to develop new products, attract private sector funding, create jobs and make Ontario more competitive.

The two types of grants available to help University of Guelph researchers turn their ideas into marketable products or services are:

  • market validation grants
  • product development grants

Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning Program

The Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning (USEL) Program provides support to University of Guelph undergraduate students with an opportunity to develop work experience through summer work placements.

Special Initiatives Program

The Special Initiatives (SI) Program addresses specific research priorities. These science and research needs are important for the ministry and its stakeholders. These research needs include, but are not limited to:

  • breeding research
  • medium-term trials
  • synthesis
  • modelling

Funded projects

Alliance-funded projects contribute to the success of the province’s agri-food and rural sectors.

To see the results of funding from various Alliance programs, check out the University of Guelph’s records of funded projects.

Additional funding from the Alliance can be found on Ontario Agri-Food Research and Innovation Portal (OAFRIP).

Other programs and services

Lab services

Diagnostic and analytical services are provided to an array of agri-food clients, including government, industry and academia.

Learn more about these services and the associated laboratories.

The Veterinary Capacity Program

Alliance funds help to support the Veterinary Capacity Program at The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). This supports programming, infrastructure and capacity building within the OVC.

Research centres

Research centres and infrastructure are an important platform for conducting agri-food research. The agreement provides funds for the maintenance, operation and management of 14 research centres located across Ontario.

These research facilities are owned by Ontario through the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) and operated and managed by the University of Guelph and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC).

KTT services and resources

To make sure information reaches end users in the agri-food and rural community, KTT experts in the Office of Research, Agri-Food Partnership and at OMAFRA work together to provide tailored KTT services to help researchers/faculty, University of Guelph staff and students develop KTT plans to support their projects. Learn more about the resources and services available from the alliance.

Consider staying up to date on news, events and research innovations through the Alliance Innovations monthly e-newsletter.

The Alliance produces several important publications throughout the year including annual reports, a yearbook and impact case studies. Look at some of these important documents to learn more about the impacts of the Alliance on the agri-food sectors and rural communities.