Weston Seeding Stronger Communities

Funding Guidelines


To download the Funding Guidelines, click here.


Funding of up to $150,000 per project is available for projects with an estimated duration of up to two years within the field of food innovation.


At George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited, we are committed to giving back to the communities where our customers, employees and shareholders live and work—locally, regionally and nationally—through donations of volunteer time by our employees, in-kind product or dollars.

We have recently shifted the focus of our giving into a new area. Climate change, population growth and human activity are putting enormous strain on the land, water and biodiversity resources in Canada and threaten our future well-being. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that sixty per cent more food will be required to be produced annually by 2050. With more than 99.7% of global food production coming from land, increasing yields in a sustainable way is vital for both our future well-being and the health of the planet.

In response to the immediate need to feed and sustain future generations, it is vital not only to increase the production of more nutritious and sustainably-produced foods that reduce the reliance on water and chemicals in food production, but also innovate to improve diets, reduce food waste, and ensure the ongoing health of our soils.

At George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited, we want to provide seed funding for rigorously scientific, trans-disciplinary research proposals that investigate food and health challenges that will impact primarily Canadians, but also deliver key learnings to solve issues of global concern. We are also interested in helping more business-focused initiatives that will have a real social impact. These might require debt/equity investment instead of a donation.

Section 1 - General Information

George Weston Limited and Loblaw Companies Limited, (the “Companies”) are one of North America’s largest bakeries and grocery retailers, employing more than 200,000 people across North America. For more than 130 years, the Weston family of companies have been feeding Canadians as well as donating back millions of dollars to the communities where their employees and customers live and work.

The 2017 Seeding Food Innovation program (the “Program”) continues a long history of philanthropic support from the Weston family of companies in the area of food, which has ranged from funding the Loblaw Chair of Sustainable Food Production at the University of Guelph to the Weston Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Institutions and individuals affiliated with and applying through or on behalf of institutions (collectively, “Applicants”) should carefully discuss the Program announcement and the terms of this document with the appropriate officer at their institution before submitting an application. The submission of a LOI or a Proposal does not bind either the Companies or the Applicants to any commitment to provide or receive funding. Notwithstanding the foregoing, by submitting a LOI or Proposal, the Applicants agree to the terms of this document. Successful Applicants will be required to agree to terms substantially similar to those contained in this document and the Companies reserve the right to alter, delete or add additional terms in the grant or loan agreement between the successful Applicants and the Companies.

The Companies reserve the right to accept or reject any or all applications at its discretion and to negotiate the terms of the specific grant or loan agreement with Applicants.

Section 2 - Eligibility of Applicants

The Companies are only able to accept Letters of Intent (“LOI”) and Proposals from institutions (or individuals affiliated with and applying through or on behalf of institutions) that are Canada Revenue Agency qualified donees in Canada. Funds can also be used to support the Canadian portion of collaborations with members from other geographies.

To be most effective, projects should involve teams of partners to provide a trans-disciplinary approach. Partnerships could be with university-based researchers, the private sector, civil society organizations, or community organizations.

A LOI submitted pursuant to this Program does not need to be approved by the relevant institution on whose behalf or through which the LOI is being submitted. However, any Proposal submitted pursuant to this Program must be approved by the institution on whose behalf or through which the Proposal is being submitted.

Section 3 - Funding Specifications

Overall funds: The Companies will commit up to $1.5 million to fund projects selected through this Program and application process provided that the Companies receive a sufficient number of high quality applications.

Funds available per project:

  • Up to $150,000 per project to be deployed over a duration of up to 24 months.
  • Funds will be granted only for direct costs that are appropriate and justifiable for the work proposed.
  • Each item and its cost must be clearly described in the budget.
  • Funds cannot be used for equipment purchases, computer purchases, or travel expenses to conferences/meetings (unless it is to present research funded by the Companies), administrative or indirect costs, except with prior written approval from one of the Companies.
  • The amount of the grant may not be for the full amount that was requested.
  • Up to 35% of the funds can be used to bring unique international resources into Canadian-led work.

Any grant provided by the Companies pursuant to this Program shall be directed to the institution and not to the individual affiliated with and applying through the institution. Responsibility for the planning, directing and execution of the proposed project will rest solely with the Applicants.

Multiple institutions/applicants: The Companies will not be responsible for the distribution or management of funds appropriately between all the collaborators.

Full or partial support or projects: The Companies can support the full or any part of any project. Conditional funding and milestones: Grants are conditional on the Applicant meeting pre-determined milestones and providing deliverables, including submission of progress reports and participation in assessment meetings. Continued support is not automatic and is contingent upon the progress reports being favourably reviewed by the Companies.

Supplemental funding: The Companies encourage the Applicant to seek additional funds to further their work. The Companies have no guaranteed policy for renewal or continuation of grants; however the Companies may, at their discretion, seek to further support clearly successful projects. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the Applicant accepts additional funds from another grantor, the terms of any agreement the Applicant enters into with the other grantor cannot affect the Applicant’s performance of its obligations under its agreement with the Companies.

Section 4 - Application Process

The application process consists of two stages: Letters of Intent (LOI) and Proposal. Only applicants who submit an LOI may be invited to submit a full proposal to enter the second stage.

The LOI stage of the application process is a significant stage of evaluation. Only a small proportion of the applicants will be invited to submit full proposals. It is our intention that the LOI should be easy to submit so no good ideas are missed and those taking the time to write a full proposal have a very good chance of being funded.

Each LOI will be peer reviewed by a scientific review committee. Applicants whose LOIs meet the review criteria and are favourably reviewed will enter the second stage, where they will be invited to submit a Proposal. Proposal instructions and feedback from our scientific review committee will be forwarded along with the invitation. Complete Proposals will be peer reviewed by the Scientific Review Committee.

The Companies are not required to provide feedback to Applicants who are not invited to submit a Proposal. However, unsuccessful full proposals will receive written feedback from the Scientific Review Committee.

Grant agreement must be completed within six weeks notification of selection as a grantee. If contracting is not completed at this point, the Companies reserve the right to cancel the grant.

The Companies, at its sole discretion, may change the timeline of the application process.

Section 5 Review Criteria

Criteria considered when reviewing LOIs:

  • Scientific Rigour and Innovation: The project must be of a rigorously scientific nature, while advancing or challenging current practices. In addition, research ideas should have a clearly defined focus and objectives. We are also open to trans-disciplinary work that moves beyond the classical boundaries of nutrition and agriculture. For example, there may be an emphasis on economics, social science and/or behaviour.
  • Vision and scope: While the project is to be primarily executed in Canada and must be significant to Canadian food and health systems, successful projects will also be able to demonstrate relevance and impact in other regions, or at a global scale.
  • Likelihood of success: How well-suited are the team and environment for this work? How likely will the project be at developing a novel, practical and scalable solution to a food-related problem?
  • Commitment to real social impact: Projects must not be stand-alone science but demonstrate that they will make a real impact on communities, industry, policy, education etc.

Additional criteria when reviewing Proposals:

  • Nature of the problem: Are potential problem areas adequately considered and addressed?
  • Development plan: What are the steps after this study to continue development if successful? If unsuccessful?
  • Budget and timeline: Are the proposed budgets, milestones and length realistic yet aggressive for the research proposed? These are secondary criteria after the other criteria have been evaluated.
  • Constraints: Are there any requirements or issues that would prohibit, delay or restrict the sharing of findings from or in connection with the project, including requirements or issues with any third-party collaborators or organization?
  • Others as needed.

Section 6 - Reports and Assessments

Grantees must agree to the following if a grant is awarded:

  • Given the potential for the project to have important benefits to the public, the Applicant agrees to participate openly in discussion regarding the project with the Companies and further agree to advise the Companies of any material discoveries resulting from or in connection with the project. Notwithstanding the above, the Companies acknowledge that any intellectual property (“IP”) that arises from research funded through this Program, including discoveries, is not and will not become the property of the Companies or its subsidiaries and affiliates.
  • Milestone Reports. Predetermined milestones for the proposed project, as agreed upon by the Applicants and the Companies, will be used to determine the reporting dates for the milestone reports. A milestone report is due prior to each scheduled payment being made. Templates for the milestone reports will be provided by the Companies.
  • Progress Reports. A progress report including a written report with budget, telephone discussion with the Applicant and, if requested by the Companies, data underlying the research (solely for use in assessing progress), is due once every twelve months unless otherwise advised by the Companies. A template for the progress reports will be provided by the Companies.
  • Final Report. A final report including a summary of the findings that arises from the funded research is due six months after the final funding has been received unless otherwise advised by the Companies. A template for the final report will be provided by the company.
  • Research Meeting. At least one Recipient of the grant must attend an assessment meeting to report on the progress of the project and have the opportunity to meet other funded researchers. Research meetings will be held once a year unless otherwise notified by the Companies. Additional key personnel may also attend if approved by the Companies. Reasonable travel expenses to attend meetings with the Companies will be covered in addition to grant funding.
  • Financial Accountability. Applicants are expected to account for the funds expended under any Companies grant; any funds spent either not in accordance with the approved research project or prior to pre-approval of any material changes in the project are both (i) recoverable by, and subject to restitution by the Applicants, to the Companies and (ii) may be cause for immediate termination of funding by the Companies. Any funding provided beyond what is needed for the agreed upon research must be returned to the Companies at the completion of the research funded by the Companies.

Section 7 Confidentiality

If the Applicant is not selected for the grant, the Companies will treat all LOIs, Proposals, research projects and associated research information (collectively, the “Confidential Information”) in confidence using reasonable care in protecting such Confidential Information from disclosure to third parties who do not participate in the grant review process and the Companies’ assessments of the projects. All Confidential Information will be used by the Companies and its scientific review committee for the purposes of reviews and assessments and will be shared only in accordance with the sharing policy as set out herein. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Confidential Information shall not include any information that:

  1. was shared with the Companies’ employees, boards, advisors, agents, affiliates or related companies;
  2. was generally known to the public prior to the effective date of this Program announcement;
  3. becomes generally known to the public through no unlawful or unauthorized act by any recipient of Confidential Information; or
  4. was independently developed by the Companies or its scientific review committee without reference to the Confidential Information.

If the Companies or any of its scientific review committee members is requested to disclose Confidential Information pursuant to a legal or government proceedings, the Companies shall give the Applicant or other owner(s) of such Confidential Information notice of such disclosure request as soon as is reasonably practicable. For Applicants not selected for the grant, the Companies’ confidentiality obligations will terminate after two years from the date the LOI is submitted.

Section 8 - Other

Liability and Indemnity

Each Applicant pursuant to this Program acknowledges and agrees in responding to the Program announcement that the Applicant shall have no claim against the Companies or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and its respective representatives or affiliates, should the Program be unsuccessful for any reason. Each Applicant hereby remises and releases the Companies, its representatives and affiliates, from any cause of action, complaint or claim in connection with the RFP process and its outcomes.

The Companies role in grants awarded pursuant to this Program is that of a funder. The Companies are not the sponsor of funded projects. As such, the Companies will not assume any liability associated with funded projects and each Applicant who is ultimately awarded a grant pursuant to this Program releases the Companies from any and all liability with respect thereto and further indemnifies the Companies, and its respective representatives and affiliates, from any claim or loss whatsoever associated with the applicable grant.

Additional Rights of the Companies

The Companies will have the right to stop funding the grants altogether if it determines, in its sole discretion, that such action is warranted or necessary. If the Companies terminate the grant, it will notify the Applicant and the Applicant agrees to refund the Companies any grant money which has not been spent or which was spent outside of the scope of the budget.

Intellectual Property Policy and Intellectual Property Agreements among Collaborators

The Companies acknowledge that any intellectual property (“IP”) that arises from research funded through this Program, including discoveries, is not and will not become the property of the Companies or its subsidiaries and affiliates.

The Companies do require that researchers and collaborators agree on any material IP issues prior to submission of a Proposal.

Publication and Sharing Policy

The Companies expect results of funded research to be published as rapidly as possible in the open access scientific literature or other forms of publication that are readily available to the research community, unless such publication will jeopardize the Applicant’s right to secure patents or copyrights necessary to protect the Applicant’s ownership. Such publication should be consistent with high standards of scientific excellence and rigor, and provides sufficient detail so the research community can benefit from the findings from or in connection with the funded project. The Applicant also agrees to advise the Companies of the details of any such publication as soon as the information is known.

A lay person abstract of the search proposal must be submitted prior to funding. A lay person abstract of the research results must also be submitted no later than two months from the date of grant expiration. These abstracts may be made available to the public by the Companies.

Any presentation, releases, papers, interviews, publication or other forms of communication dealing with the awarded project of the results from the awarded project (“Communication”) must acknowledge the funding provided by the Companies, in a manner proportionate to the contribution of the Companies. All Communication requires prior written permission of the Companies. Goodwill resulting from an approved use of the Companies’ intellectual property, including its name, logo or trademark shall inure solely and exclusively to the Companies.

The Companies expect all tools or reagents (i) funded by and (ii) that result from funded projects will be made readily available to the community for research purposes either freely or at reasonable prices. The Companies may let the public know of these tools or reagents so other researchers know they are available.

If the Applicant is selected for the grant, the Applicant will participate in reasonable promotional activities relating to the grant as requested by the Companies.