Toronto - Entrepreneurs who dream of starting their own food processing businesses are one step closer to making their dreams a reality thanks to a new Toronto Food Business Incubator (TFBI) launched yesterday. The facility will help to establish new food companies to stimulate job creation and help commercialize innovative new food products in Toronto.

Toronto is one of North America’s largest food processing manufacturing centres and provides employment for more than 50,000 people in the food sector. The TFBI will enable entrepreneurs to start their own food processing businesses and take advantage of new trends by creating food products that are locally developed and processed. The facility, which is open to qualified individuals in Ontario, will also help bridge the gap between the rural farming community and the urban centre as well as serve the growing appetite of Toronto’s increasingly multicultural and diverse population.

“Toronto’s cultural mosaic enlivens all facets of city life,” said Councillor Kyle Rae, Chair of the City’s Economic Development Committee. “The introduction of a Toronto Food Business Incubator will provide entrepreneurs and newcomers with an opportunity to develop and commercialize their food concepts into successful businesses.”

The TFBI’s new 2,000 sq ft. facility provides a range of commercial food processing and packaging equipment. TFBI Members are instructed on food safety, equipment, business skills training and mentorship. The TFBI concept, which is Stage One of a larger food processing commercialization centre, has been in development for several years. The TFBI is a non-profit organization with a volunteer board of directors comprised of experienced food industry executives.

“Our Board is very excited to launch the TFBI,” said Barbara Shopland, TFBI Chair. “The TFBI will act as a catalyst to help satisfy the burgeoning demand for new food products and tastes. We’re delighted with the support we’ve received to date and we’re approaching others who want to become involved. Everyone is working hard to see this project come to fruition because the benefits will be long-term.”

Entrepreneurs interested in starting food businesses become TFBI Members following the completion of a rigorous application process and review. Members are charged a one-time membership and hourly rental fees to help offset the TFBI’s operational costs. The TFBI facility can accommodate up to nine members at any one time. Members are able to participate in the program for up to a maximum of three years.

“The goal of the TFBI is to help establish new food businesses in Toronto,” said Heather MacDonald, TFBI General Manager. “We’re here to ensure serious entrepreneurs are given the right opportunity and the right ingredients to develop successful businesses. Everyone is different, with unique needs, product ideas and concepts. The key is to provide them with sound business advice and the equipment to commercialize their home-made recipes for the Toronto marketplace and beyond.”

The TFBI is supported in part by the Toronto Economic Development Corporation, City of Toronto’s Economic Development Sectors Investment Program, the Can-Adapt Program through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the private sector.