The Agritech Ramp-Up Pilot Program (Ramp-Up), which began in late 2021, is funded by the Government of British Columbia and delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. The program is designed to enable entrepreneurs to move their ideas to commercial realities by providing training, coaching, mentoring, networking, and funding.

The Agritech Ramp-Up Pilot Program will have two Cohorts, each consisting of up to 12 participating organizations. Participants are selected from a pool of applicants based on several factors, including what stage their business operations are at. Phase 1 for each Cohort involves three days of Market Validation Training, spread over two months. During the training, participants complete a series of assignments designed to apply their learnings. After each Cohort completes their Market Validation Training, the Program Team evaluates the graduates and invites up to six companies to proceed onto Phase 2: Mentoring, Coaching, and Networking. At the end of Phase 2, participants are invited to a virtual pitch event. The top two companies from each Cohort will be awarded a grant up to $25,000 and could be offered a place in SFU’s Agritech Sandbox program.

Cohort 1 completed their Phase 1 Market Validation Training at the end of February. Training topics included: face-to-face customer meetings following a prescribed script; reviewing & revising go-to-market plans to incorporate customer feedback; and analyzing, understanding, and anticipating barriers to scale-up. Ramp-Up’s Market Validation Training has been well received. Jonathan Kitzen, Founding Partner at Demizine Technology Inc has found the experience to be particularly valuable to him, saying that “… The atmosphere and the focus are refreshing and very insightful. […] I really appreciate and respect the work you and the team have put into the event; it is something I look forward to and am thankful for.”

Cohort 1 is currently in Phase 2 of the program, where select applicants receive mentoring, coaching, and networking opportunities based on their individual company needs. Phase 2 focusses on coaching companies to address the feedback they gathered in Phase 1. While Phase 1 is trainer-led, Phase 2 is student-led. Students define their strategic goals and are paired with program mentors who have a wealth of experience – from business services to investment to technical expertise. Participants work with their mentors to dive deeper into the specific challenges and opportunities their businesses face.

James Irwin, CEO of Point 3 Biotech, reports that participating in Ramp-Up provided him with a great opportunity to review his organization’s business plan. “Since participating in the program we discovered that our main business case had some threats that would affect the value proposition.” James Irwin says, “We have since pivoted and are much more confident about our new direction. If it was not for the exploration of the entire business case through the Ramp-Up program, we would not have discovered the threat and could still be working on the original path.”

Cohort 1 will complete their pitch event later in May, with award recipients to be announced in the weeks following. Applications for Cohort 2 are open until April 15th. To learn more and apply, visit www.AgritechRampUp.ca.