Leading Supply Chain Innovation in Toronto

By Carrissa Pahl

Toronto offers countless opportunities for technology innovation within the supply chain industry. Why are smart, talented entrepreneurs forced to travel to the Silicon Valley to build and grow their companies?

On June 25, 2020, Plug and Play hosted an event along with BASF Canada to showcase their partnership in opening a new office location in Toronto, Canada. BASF is a leader in the chemical industry, being the largest producer and marketer of chemicals and related products in North America. Plug and Play has the ability to boost BASF’s scalability with a proven track record in working with startups from an early stage.

To kick off the event, Marcelo Lu, President of BASF Canada highlighted the partnership, saying, “Plug and Play is our global partner to not only interact with startups but also to look ahead and see what we can do together in the innovation space. BASF seeks innovation partnerships like Plug and Play to help drive the chemistry ecosystem in all areas.” Follow BASF Canada’s innovation efforts on their Twitter account: @BASFCanada

Watch the whole event here: 


Multiple startups were featured during the event. During the corporate innovation panel, Harvey Williams, Senior Associate at Plug and Play hosted Andrea Ruotolo, Global Lead - Distributed Energy Systems at Worley, Wilson Ma, Director, Corporate Development, Commercial Strategy and Innovation at Emerson Canada and Deryk Gillespie, VP of Transformation and Technology at Trimac Transportation. 

How Has The Supply Chain Changed?

The supply chain is accelerating more than ever due to the rise of COVID-19 with an increasing need for safety, automation, and visibility. In the past, the supply chain has quietly operated in the background. Companies are often concerned with their immediate buyer one step ahead in the value chain, and suppliers one step behind, which has worked seemingly well in the past. But with the coronavirus making its way around the world and ravaging global economies, companies are forced to adapt quickly.

Wilson Ma explained, “the coronavirus pandemic has shown cracks in the foundation of many supply chains; companies are being forced to think about ensuring the stability and integrity of their entire supply chain, from end-to-end.” 

The coronavirus pandemic has shown cracks in the foundation of many supply chains; companies are being forced to think about ensuring the stability and integrity of their entire supply chain, from end-to-end.

Amidst the pandemic, consumers are becoming increasingly more interested in where their products come from and how they are sourced. Food is one example. People rely on consistency with their food. They want known availability, freshness, quality, and a secure supply. But this process could have up to 20 points of contact before getting to your fork.

At Emerson, they realized that up to 40% of all food that is grown and produced never makes it onto a plate and one in six people globally will suffer from a foodborne illness this year. To combat this, Emerson has partnered with IBM and Walmart on a project to track the origin and composition of food, reduce food waste, and reduce instances where food safety is at risk. Their goal is to not only make sure the end-to-end supply chain is secure, but to also increase optimization to ensure other common concerns are addressed. 

How Antifragility Helps Overcome the Unknown

As smaller startups are connected with bigger companies, they are often met with challenges and new obstacles they have not faced before. Antifragility, according to Andrea Ruotolo, is how you react to stress. Being antifragile means you gain something from disorder. You want stress to lead to growth instead of breaking down and giving up. Ruotolo started a platform at Worley that gives people the opportunity to add ideas so when start-ups encounter stressful situations, they have a place to look for advice or ideas on how to move forward.  

Ruotolo explained how Worley gives their startups challenges so they are pushed to a certain limit and can learn, but being part of a bigger organization means they are not forced to risk their life savings or at most, their homes in order to be successful. They are encouraged to innovate, but not to the point where they are risking complete financial failure. 

Plug and Play is looking forward to our partnership with BASF Canada and furthering our community into Canada, home to some of the world’s most innovative companies.