Scale-Up Program

fall 2024 cohort: applications begin on august 1st

The Foodpreneur Scale-Up Program

This program will be delivered in a hybrid model with both online & in-persons sessions being offered.

The Foodpreneur Scale-Up program is designed specifically for food production and distribution businesses that demonstrate high growth potential.

This 10 week program will provide business owners with access to industry experts, customized workshops and peer to peer discussion circles, that will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to successfully scale their businesses.

Subject matter covered includes:

  • Production Process & Shelf-Life Testing
  • Food Safety, Regulation & Traceability
  • Canadian Food Labelling Regulations
  • Connecting with Buyers Brokers & Distributors
  • How to Pitch your Product to National Chains
  • Product/Recipe Development and Food Innovation
  • How to Sell Your Products to Retailers
  • Navigating Packaging for your Food/Beverage Product
  • Managing Cash Flow for Profits, Today & Tomorrow
  • Marketing & Branding Strategies

Class sizes are limited, and this is a competitive process.



Business must be operating for a minimum of 1-year revenue generation and not longer than 5-years and have an established consumer packaged good that has been tested in the market.

Business must demonstrate strong growth potential and scalability.

Business Owner must commit to participate fully in the training and mentorship.

Business must be located in the following counties: London/Middlesex, St Thomas/Elgin, Sarnia/Lambton, Chatham/Kent, Windsor/Essex.

Application Process

The application is a three-step process:

Step 1

The first step is to complete a brief online application to address basic eligibility requirements.

Applications for fall 2024 cohort begin on August 1st.

Please reach out to us at with any questions.  

Individuals who meet the basic eligibility requirements will be invited to attend a group information session where they will be notified of critical dates, have an opportunity to ask questions, and learn other important details about the program. 


Step 2

The second step for those who remain interested, is to attend a two hour business proposal workshop. Applicants will be given two weeks to submit a brief proposal (6-8 pages) that outlines their growth potential. Proposals will be reviewed by an independent review panel.

Step 3

The third step is to meet with program staff to talk through the proposal and address any concerns that may have been raised by the review panel.

Funding Opportunity

Successful applicants may also be eligible to receive up to $5,000, available through partnering Small Business Centres, as part of their Starter Company training and grant programs.

The foundation for the grant application will be the same proposal submission and application process. There may be slight contract variations and requirements based on location. You can only apply for the grant in the county you reside and where the business is operated.

Tips to a successful application

If you are new to your local Small Business Centre, we encourage you to introduce yourself. Do not wait for the application to make your first visit! Centre staff are there to help you grow your business. The further you are along in your business, the greater prepared you will be to seize this opportunity!


Team of Experts

Amanda DeVries

Amanda DeVries is a graphic designer of 17 years and the owner of Eye Candy Design, specializing in branding and packaging for food & beverage companies. She spent 10 years in Ottawa, where governmental agencies kept her busy but not terribly inspired. Moving to Southwestern Ontario in 2009 presented her with the opportunity to work with small businesses and real people. In her past life, she was an electrical engineer which made her no stranger to project management, budgets and timelines.

Abbi Lezizidis

Abbi Lezizidis of Take ONE Concepts has been in sales, marketing, and distribution for over 30 years. For the past 15 years, Abbi has thrived in many aspects of the Food Sector.  He understands and values the relationships between Food Retailers, Distributors and Producers.  Abbi understands the craft of integrating great products with lifestyle and sharing a good story. Assisting entrepreneurs to build their dreams within the community of launching & growing to take your food business to another level is what the Take ONE Concepts team does.

Candace Campbell

Candace Campbell is the Business Development Manager at Nuts For Cheese (NFC), responsible for US market development and expansion. In this role, Candace liaises with inside and outside sales teams, distributors, broker partners and retailers to expand availability of Nuts For Cheese’s line of cashew cheese and butter. Today Nuts For Cheese is sold nationwide in Canada and more than 45 US States. Prior to joining NFC, Candace worked in business development at the London Economic Development Corporation supporting the growth and retention of London’s manufacturing and food processing sectors. She is well versed in a variety of government funding programs. A passionate community builder, she is chair of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Southwestern Ontario.

Karen Cardona

Founder & Owner – True Leaves Consulting Expert in launching innovative products in retail & foodservice from concept to plant scale-up.
Over 11 years of experience in product development, quality assurance, and operations management. Some of the brands she has worked with Kraft Heinz, Nuts for Cheese, Nestlé, Subway, Starbucks and McDonalds.

Karen Leacock

Karen is passionate about her role as the Technical Manager for NSF Training division. She provides food safety training as a certified Trainer for the GFSI standards-SQF, BRC, FSSC22000 as well as HACCP courses. Karen’s previous role at NSF was as a consultant for the entire food supply chain including (Food packaging converters, Food distribution & supply chain and Food manufacturers) helping them to achieve certification.  Prior to NSF, she worked for several packaging companies as QA Manager and Extrusion Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from York University.

Lisa Cove

Lisa is a Certified Packaging Professional, Food Safety expert and owner of Co-Motion Packaging Solutions. She is passionate about all things food and packaging. Throughout her career
she has worked with brands like Ferrero, Kinder, Nutella and Tic Tac along with many private label brands. Her experience as a Professor of Food Safety and Traceability at Fanshawe College coupled with her packaging expertise has given her a unique perspective to share with foodpreneurs.


Michelle Anstey

Michelle has over 10 years of experience in food labelling, regulatory affairs and sensory evaluation specializing in non-meat, meat, and seafood products. She performs labelling and compliance reviews for both Canada and U.S. products including nutrition information (database or lab analysis), ingredient declarations, allergen and label compliance/formulation reviews and label translation. Michelle holds an Honours B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Western Ontario (Brescia) as well as Honours B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Molecular Biology from McMaster University.


Nicole Haney

Nicole Haney quit her corporate job in 2015 to start a health food bakery – without any business education or experience in the food industry. In just 4 years, she scaled a tiny farmer’s market bakery to a national energy bar business serving hundreds of retailers across Canada, including grocery store chains. In 2019, she was named Top 20 Under 40 for her business accomplishments and was showcased on the cover of London Inc. magazine. Having built a six-figure national product brand, Nicole is now an Online Business Educator and is incredibly passionate about helping others embrace their dreams and pursue their goals.

Peter Chapman

Peter Chapman understands the food industry and he works hard to figure out where it is going. Peter’s experience includes both sides of the desk.  Prior to working with suppliers and launching SKUFood, Peter worked for 19 years with Canada’s largest food retailer, Loblaw. He is committed to using this experience to help producers and processors understand retailers and consumers. Peter is the author of A la cart; a supplier’s guide to retailers’ priorities and has provided food industry insights to Canadian Grocer, The Globe & Mail, Maclean’s magazine and Canada AM. 

Ramona Gallagher

Ramona (Ciparis) Gallagher is a serial entrepreneur who has owned a number of her own successful businesses and who has coached and mentored over 4,000 entrepreneurs across Canada and abroad. She has a unique way of melding book learning, holding a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University, with experiential life learning. She is a connector – if it is helping a client with their business start-up or growth, accessing investment, or funding opportunities, or developing strategic community partnerships – she is there. She has an entrepreneurial spirit and is always looking at new ways to solve problems, establish relationships and provide top quality results in a changing environment.

Sarah Hamza

Sarah Hamza joined the Fanshawe College Centre for Research & Innovation in 2022. She is now leading one of Ontario’s most exciting innovation hubs and is eager at the opportunity to help grow businesses across Canada. Sarah comes from a background of Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Mechatronics and Master’s in Biomaterials. She spent three years in the polymer industry beginning in sales and moving into management, servicing, and analysis. Prior to that, she worked at a small start-up manufacturing bone grafts. With experience in both small & medium-sized companies as well as working on her own non-profit, Sarah understands the struggles that come at all stages of the business growth cycle.  CRI supports growth in the Canadian agricultural and agri-food industries by connecting talented graduates to growing companies, helping scale businesses, conduct product testing, or leveraging the expertise of experienced researchers. The centre helps advance Canada’s leadership position in agri-food innovation.