The launch of the GTA Food & Beverage Cluster is the first step towards the Cluster achieving its optimal impact. Other fully functioning food clusters around the world – such as Food Valley, Netherlands – are models to follow. The GTA Food & Beverage Cluster is initially focussing on two key priorities – skills and labour and innovation. The Cluster will continue to evolve over time in an effort to reach full optimization and drive collaboration and economic growth.
Skills and labour – clear linkage with post-secondary institutions and academia
- The Cluster will produce an annual labour market research report, with the support of MNP, specific to the food and beverage manufacturing sector in the GTA and Ontario. The goal is to identify where the job opportunities are for the sector, so academia, government and students can understand where the opportunities and needs are in the industry.
– The new report builds off of the 2014 labour market report, Planning for Ontario’s Future Agri-Food Workforce, produced by Food and Beverage Ontario and the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph.
- For students, the new website will host a profile of every post-secondary program in our sector available in Ontario.
- We will promote food and beverage manufacturing as a great career choice and a field of opportunity by supporting and collaborating with Food and Beverage Ontario on their campaign to encourage careers in the sector.
Innovation – supporting growth, novelty and togetherness
- The Cluster will link businesses with academic institutions where they can connect to tackle real business challenges and real business issues. Through partnerships, companies can access support to help them on a number of fronts, including testing new products, research and even HR support. Mitacs and colleges in Ontario offer these services, and the Cluster will promote them and help business access them.
- The Cluster will be a one-stop shop where companies and young innovators can go to find out about government funding programs that can benefit their business. We will keep a current list on the website.
- Regional innovation centre for the GTA: We will support and promote regional innovation centres, such as the Toronto Food Business Incubator.
- Mentorship is a key ingredient to success. By matching industry leaders, with thought leaders, and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow; mentorship will be the Cluster.