Press releases

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Visits Innovation Cluster Incubator to Fuel Growth in Rural Ontario

September 5, 2023 – PETERBOROUGH, ON – The Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas (ICPK) is honoured to report a significant visit from the Ministry of Agriculture. This visit fortifies a burgeoning partnership to invigorate the agricultural sector through innovation and entrepreneurship. The event gains additional importance as ICPK has recently been approved for funding under the Rural Economic Development Program (OMAFRA), set to commence this October.

The day’s agenda was both insightful and action-packed. It began with a heartfelt welcome to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Lisa Thompson, and MPP David Smith, signaling an era of meaningful collaboration between the Ministry and ICPK.

Dave Smith, Member of Provincial Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, emphasized the importance of this collaboration. “The Agri-food industry has been a key innovator in so many technologies that we take for granted in our everyday lives,” said Smith. “Today’s announcement is another example of Minister Thompson’s recognition that good things grow in Ontario when we nurture those local entrepreneurs and give them the tools they need to collaborate and innovate.”

Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, also highlighted the government’s commitment. “Our government values rural communities throughout the province, and this program provides municipalities, Indigenous communities, and not-for-profits with the funding they need for projects that contribute to local economic vitality,” she said. “The Rural Economic Development program is another example of how our government is ensuring small towns and communities across Ontario continue to share in the province’s growth and economic prosperity.”

The visit featured a guided tour of the ICPK facilities, aimed to showcase the innovative ecosystem that supports burgeoning agricultural startups like Metaboly and Commoner Cider Company. The guided tour wasn’t merely a walk-through of the facility but an opportunity to delve into the unique capabilities that ICPK offers. It provided a first-hand look at the resources and environment that enable startups to take innovative steps in the agricultural sector. The day also showcased some of ICPK’s standout startups, further emphasizing the Cluster’s ability to help startups reach the next level in their business.

Metaboly, an agricultural startup, offered compelling insights into the benefits of being an Innovation Cluster client. “Joining the ICPK community has been transformative for Metaboly,” shared Daniel Palberg, Co-Founder & CEO. “Their ecosystem provides us rapid access to a network of seasoned professionals and industry-specific expertise. This accelerates our business development strategy, freeing up invaluable time to zero in on our core research objectives. Additionally, through ICPK, we’ve established partnerships with other startups, government agencies, and vendors, which has been vital in driving our innovation forward. The impact is not just on us; the collaborative environment at ICPK amplifies everyone’s effectiveness in achieving their goals.”

Zachary McCue, founder of REPWR, a startup focused on sustainable operations, added, “As a founder deeply invested in sustainable operations through REPWR, I’m thrilled to see the Ministry of Agriculture engage actively with the Innovation Cluster. It’s a powerful endorsement for all who believe that innovation can be a powerful force for sustainability. The new Rural Economic Development Program creates exciting avenues for greener, more efficient practices. It’s a step that aligns perfectly with REPWR’s broader mission of powering a sustainable future. Collaborations like this are crucial for sustainable startups, as they can lead to real, impactful advancements.”

In a statement, Nicole Stephenson, Interim CEO of the Innovation Cluster, mentioned, “We are incredibly thankful for the Ministry’s support, particularly for the RED funding, which aligns so well with our mission to drive innovation-focused, entrepreneur-led economic growth. This visit serves as a remarkable platform to demonstrate how startups incubated at ICPK will make significant contributions to the Peterborough region and the agricultural sector at large.”

The visit from the Ministry of Agriculture establishes a promising foundation for deeper and more effective collaborations in the future. Both ICPK and the Ministry are committed to leveraging each other’s strengths, especially with the forthcoming Rural Economic Development Program. This joint endeavor is expected to catalyze significant advancements in the agricultural industry.

About the Innovation Cluster

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas (ICPK) is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs to launch, grow and scale their businesses. They help entrepreneurs reach their business goals so that our local community, job market, and economy continue to grow.

The ICPK supports startup businesses by providing dynamic programming, mentorship, workshops, and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs through three core programs.

STARTUP INCUBATOR – a full-service Startup Incubator Program

STARTup Visa Program Canada – an Immigrant Entrepreneurship Program

Student Entrepreneurship Program

The Innovation Cluster operates across multiple locations, one of which includes LAUNCH Kawartha, a dedicated space for incubation programming situated in Lindsay, Kawartha Lakes. For additional information, please visit

Core Funding is provided by The City of Peterborough, Trent University, Fleming College, The City of Kawartha Lakes, OMAFRA, Feddev Ontario, and Franklin Empire.


Media Contact

Innovation Cluster

Nicole Stephenson

Interim CEO

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