Export Development Canada (EDC) began working with P&P Optica in early 2018 and invested $1 million in the company to help it develop and launch its Smart Imaging System in Canada and the United States.
Very few people would expect to see “optical spectroscopy” on a list of classic clean technologies. P&P Optica’s Smart Imaging System accurately sorts meat and produce on production lines for nutrition and safety, which puts better quality food on the tables of consumers with much less waste. In other words, it helps us maximize the use of an important resource – our food.
Modern food production still relies on hand sorting, which favours the nicest looking foods over the most nutritious foods. This lowers the quality of our food supply and wastes some of the best products our farmers grow. P&P Optica’s patented technology combines hyperspectral imaging and artificial intelligence to instantly read the chemistry of food as it passes through the production line.
Processors receive detailed information about each piece of food on the production line and can use that data to stream it for the best possible use.
“Hand sorting can’t screen for nutritional value or find tainted foods, and it can’t always tell if foreign objects are present,” says Olga Pawluczyk, P&P Optica’s President and CEO. “Smart imaging can tell processors about the shelf life, quality, flavour and the molecular composition of individual food items, and if something is tainted it can be removed from the food supply long before it reaches consumers.”
While P&P Optica is still in the early stages of exporting, it is seeing clear interest in its technology in other countries, particularly the United States, where food production relies heavily on automation to be profitable. Moving from “interest” to “sales” is the key challenge that smaller companies often face when they enter new markets. The biggest hurdles often come in financing the first few deals.
“There are large upfront costs to produce a system like ours. Our system relies on multiple specialized technologies and we had a very hard time attracting financing without already having completed sales. EDC’s investment helped us get over that roadblock,” Pawluczyk says. “EDC has several other specialized products we’re looking at, including their purchase-order financing, and we expect they will continue to be an integral part of our export story as we continue to grow.”
EDC is excited about the potential impact P&P Optica’s technology can have on the quality of the world food supply and the jobs and economic opportunities this new industry can bring to Canada, which is why we have identified them as “One to Watch” in Canada’s Cleantech sector.
CEO & President