Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 22, 2005

U of G Earns Awards for Agri-Food Innovation

Researchers, students and staff from the University of Guelph were recognized for their achievements at the inaugural Agri-Food Innovation Forum held in Toronto this week.

The first annual Agri-Food Innovation Awards Program recognizes the outstanding contributions made by Canadian innovators. This year’s focus was on agriculture, food and human health and nominations were received in the categories of communications, innovation and “Young Canadian Innovator.”

The Communications Award was presented to SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge). Developed in 1989 by Owen Roberts, director of research communications at U of G, SPARK is hailed as a model for teaching students how to effectively transfer science-based agri-food and health knowledge to targeted audiences including media, consumers, farmers, agri-business and the research community, and to enhance students’ future employability.

More than 70 students have benefitted from participating in SPARK and many currently hold prominent communications positions. With aid from Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC), the SPARK model has been implemented in 23 Canadian universities.

The Innovation Award, which recognizes individuals, team or businesses that have introduced new products or services that have improved health and the agri-food sector, went to the Fresh Cut Apple Slices Team.

The team worked to introduce pre-packaged apple slices to the marketplace through the McDonald’s food chain. This collaborative effort involved Jennifer DeEll, a U of G plant agriculture adjunct professor, and former U of G researcher Vasantha Rupasinghe. The product is the first of its kind and has opened up a new market for Ontario apples.

This year’s Young Canadian Innovator is Prof. Alison Duncan, Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences and the associate director of U of G’s Human Neutraceutical Research Unit.

Duncan has developed a multi-disciplinary research team to investigate methods to increase Canadian’s intake of isoflavones through soy. Isoflavones are non-nutritive, naturally occurring plant chemicals found in high concentration in soy. They have protective functions against hormone-related disorders including certain forms of cancer.

The Agri-Food Innovation Awards program is co-ordinated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, MaRS Landing and Ontario Agri-Food Technologies with funding provided through the Agricultural Policy Framework, an agreement among the federal, provincial and territorial governments to make Canada a world leader in agriculture science and innovation.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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