A Summerland agricultural research company has received $300,000 in federal funding to study a method of extracting phytochemicals from plants.
Phytochemicals, such as antioxidants, are chemical compounds which occur naturally in plants.
The funding announcement was made on Monday morning at Mazza Innovation Ltd. on Highway 97.
Dan Albas, MP for Okanagan Coquihalla, speaking on behalf of agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, said the funding will help agriculture in the region.
“We’re helping to create new opportunities for Okanagan farmers and spin-off industries,” he said.
“This Canadian-made pioneering technology will increase the demand for a wide variety of Canadian agriculture crops and help processors boost their profits while fulfilling the growing demand for health-enhancing foods.”
The funding comes through the AgriInnovation Program, a five-year initiative with up to $698 million available.
The funding is to support pre-commercialization research, development and knowledge transfer to innovations in agriculture, agri-food and agriculturally-based practices, processes and products.
The initiative is under the Growing Forward 2 policy framework, which came into effect in April.
Mayor Janice Perrino said she is pleased the agricultural research organization is doing its work in Summerland.
“Thank you so much for being part of our community,” she said. “We appreciate it.”
Giuseppe (Joe) Mazza, who founded Mazza Innovation Ltd., said the money will help to research a method to extract phytochemicals from plants.
“I am just delighted and honoured to be receiving this funding,” he said.
The method uses water to extract the phytochemicals.
Traditionally, extraction has been done using a chemical process.
“Our technology is new,” Mazza said. “It is a system which has not been used before.”
The method is also less expensive and simpler than methods in use at present.
“It’s elegant technology,” Mazza said. “We take water and modify it to make it behave like an organic solvent.”
He said the byproducts of the grape and wine industry can be used for this process.
Once the phytochemicals have been extracted, the wastes can be composted easily.
Some production of phytochemicals will take place in Summerland as part of the initiative.
Mazza Innovation Ltd. was founded in 2011 to develop and market innovative extraction technologies.