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A smart growth strategy

An entrepreneurial-academic partnership helps mushroom producers expand into new markets
February 12, 2013

Starting any business is hard work. It’s especially difficult when you need specific academic knowledge to succeed. Marie-Claude Héroux and Grégoire Dorval launched a mushroom production business called Champignons Advitam Inc. in Saint-Ours, Que., in 2007. When the couple decided to expand their product line almost a year ago and offer new species of mushrooms, they knew they would have to do a lot of research to understand how to properly branch out.

A chance encounter introduced Héroux and Dorval to Université de Montréal biology professor Mohamed Hijri. A researcher at the university’s Plant Biology Research Institute, Hijri studies micro-organisms (bacteria, mycorrhizal and other fungi) and plants. His knowledge of fungi has been invaluable to Héroux and Dorval as they move toward producing different kinds of mushrooms, using a production method that is new to Canada. Hijri accelerated their shift in this new direction by testing and validating their novel growing process and by providing access to his equipment, which is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The partnership between Hijri and Les Champignons Advitam, now nearly a year old, has helped the company realize its long-term goal of expanding into new markets.