Among the top 10 start-up businesses selected for a pitch contest by the government-funded organization Innovation Factory are Canadian businesses that specialize in “human composting” burial practices and edible insect meat alternatives. 

According to a press release by Innovation Factory, whose funding partners include both the governments of Ontario and Canada, the start-ups chosen are Bug Mars and AWAKE. 

“Our LiONS LAIR Pitch Competition and Founders Fast Track program embody our mission at Innovation Factory: to foster and drive innovation within the Hamilton area and beyond. These 10 finalists are a testament to the growth potential our region holds. We’re extremely proud of what they’ve achieved through the program and look forward to their success at LiONS LAIR and in the future,” wrote Innovation Factory Marketing Lead. 

According to Bug Mars’ website the company specializes in “sustainable alternative proteins” for human consumption and animal feed. 

The company’s co-founder Natalie Duncan has said that “starvation is a pretty motivating factor” in adopting consumption of edible insects due to climate change. 

“Starvation is a pretty motivating factor. And one that affects us all. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN warns that hunger may significantly increase in urban areas if drastic measures are not taken to ensure vulnerable people in these areas have access to food,” said Duncan in an interview. 

“Broader acceptance of alternative proteins has already been accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers are becoming more aware of the connections between our food, health and environment.”

The World Economic Forum has also advocated for replacing meat with insect-based alternatives. 

Bug Mars was the recent recipient of a City of Toronto Women4Climate Mentorship Program. 

Another finalist, AWAKE, is developing a “sustainable alternative cemetery” in Simcoe County, Ontario. 

“Our protected memorial forest will offer ash scattering and planting plots with options for dedicated family memorial trees, open meadow scattering sites, and custom memorial plaques,” the company explains. 

Additionally, it is pushing for “human composting” to be allowed in Canada so that the deceased can be turned into organic compost after death. 

“Known as ‘natural organic reduction’ or ‘terramation,’ human composting speeds up the process of turning our bodies to organic matter after death,” reads the AWAKE website. 

“This practice is not currently permitted in Canada. Our team is partnering on new developments in the UK and US, and will be ready to launch when Canadian legislation opens.”