OMAFRA research partnerships: innovation that drives growth

What kind of research does your business need to compete and grow?

How should OMAFRA prioritize research funding for a strong, vibrant agri-food industry?

Are there common industry challenges that research could address?

If you have answers to these questions, the OMAFRA Research Advisory Network (ORAN) wants to hear from you! ORAN was established in 2009 to communicate with industry stakeholders on an ongoing basis to ensure research priorities are on target and funding goes where it is most needed. OMAFRA currently allocates funding to universities, institutions and industry for research designed to strengthen the agri-food sector and Ontario communities. Key funding programs include:

New Directions Research Program

  • Open to universities, institutions and private companies, this program is designed to create new and alternative products or technologies to stimulate the sustainable growth and competitiveness of Ontario's agri-food sector.
  • Since 1999, the New Directions Research Program has sponsored 247 research projects totalling more than $20 million. These projects include soybeans with higher isoflavone levels, a new probiotic yogurt, and mushrooms designed to yield pharmaceutical compounds.

OMAFRA-University of Guelph Partnership Agreement

Industry research partners are eligible to share in $7.6 million in annual funding through OMAFRA's collaborative research agreement with the University of Guelph.

Key Research Themes

Strategic themes guide OMAFRA funded research including:

Food for Health

OMAFRA looks to researchers, producers and processors to help advance the health of Ontarians by developing better food products, particularly in areas such as nutraceuticals, functional foods, healthy consumer choices and age-related diets. The DHA-enriched milk and omega-3 eggs now on supermarket shelves are two examples of innovative new products developed with funding under this theme.

Food for Health high-level priorities include:

  • Agriculture and food for health
  • Consumers and healthy choices
  • Understanding linkages between food and health
  • Policy, regulations, investment and the economy
  • Healthy Designer Functional Foods

Product Development and Enhancement through Value Chains

When researchers and food processors collaborate, new and improved products and processes result. The value they create increases the competitiveness of Ontario companies and contributes as many as 6,000 jobs per year to the provincial economy.

High-level priorities related to product development include:

  • Emerging opportunities
  • Food safety, Traceability and Other Certifications
  • Packaging
  • Sustainability

High-level priorities related to value-chain enhancement include:

  • Relationship/Business Models
  • Communications/Networking
  • Marketing Intelligence Opportunities
  • Human Resource Capacity

OMAFRA is committed to improving Ontario's economic competitiveness through focused, collaborative research that meets the needs of industry and local communities. If you are an industry stakeholder, contact ORAN at with your ideas and comments, and let's put research to work.

For more information:
Telephone: 1-888-466-2372, Ext. 64554

We're here to help!

To find out how the Business Development Branch, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs can provide you with knowledge, connections, and resources to help you grow your business, call toll-free at 1-888-466-2372 extension 63795 or e-mail at

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300