Below is our recent interview with Olga Pawluczyk, CEO at P&P Optica:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?
A: At PPO, we believe that the food industry can be transformed through technology; our food supply can be more sustainable; and our citizens and our planet can be healthier at the same time. PPO’s mission is to help food producers make safer, higher quality food while addressing one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions: food waste.
P&P Optica was founded in 1995 as a research and consulting company. Over time, as our technology improved, we were able to build and patent spectrometers that could collect light better and get more precise information faster than other spectrometers. And we decided to shift from a purely research-focused company into one that used our technology to create solutions for industry.
Starting in 2012, we explored a number of different industries that could benefit from our technology. We worked with plastics recycling companies to sort transparent plastics based on their chemical composition. We figured out how to find bitumen in oil sands. We put one of our spectrometers on the International Space Station. And in 2015, we turned our eyes to the food processing industry. We haven’t looked back since!
PPO has developed a unique solution for assessing and sorting food in-line and in real time. Our Smart Imaging System uses hyperspectral imaging and artificial intelligence to read and understand food chemistry.
Today, we’re working with food processors to detect foreign materials and assess food quality. Our team has grown to include experts in hardware and software engineering, software development, physics, nano-tech, chemistry, optics and so much more. With our team, we’re on a mission to become a food information company, helping food producers make safer and higher quality food. We’re proudly based in the tech hub of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: The financing will be used to accelerate implementation of PPO’s detection system in food processing plants across Canada and the US. The funding will be also used to expand development of the company’s advanced software and insights for the food processing industry. This includes artificial intelligence (AI) tools that enable processors to collect, view, and analyze detailed information about food composition and quality in real-time.
The round was led by new investors Ag Capital Canada and Synovus Family Office (based in the US) as well as existing investors Fulcrum Global Capital, Export Development Canada (EDC) and others. Ag Capital Canada and Synovus Family office both bring deep expertise and connections in the agri-tech sector, which is very exciting for PPO.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?
A: PPO’s Smart Imaging System uses a technology called hyperspectral imaging that has been proven in many other industries, including aerospace oil and gas, agriculture and more. We apply this technology in a unique way, and combine it with data analytics software, and machine learning to find foreign contaminants like plastic, rubber and bone, and assess food quality measures like composition, tenderness and freshness, using the same system. The system works on the line, in real time. Using the chemistry data provided through our System, PPO provides insights that enable processors to optimize their use of resources, adjust their production processes and manage their suppliers.
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: Our focus is on continuing to deliver our world class system to customers in Canada and the US, and to continue gathering chemical data on our food as it’s being produced. We are excited to be working with our customers to deliver insights to them about how to improve their processes and products. In the next 6 months, we expect to begin sharing customer case studies from clients across the meat industry. We also expect to launch further expansion of our PPO Insights platform.
THe PPO team is growing fast – we expect to add a number of roles this year across all parts of the company. We’d love to have everyone in your audience watching our website for roles that they might be interested in for themselves, or for their friends, family and colleagues!
Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?
A: PPO’s Guiding Principles are People, Purpose and Outcomes. We’re incredibly proud of our inclusive culture, built on trust, humility, empathy and respect. In an industry that often struggles with diversity, PPO has a growing team that comes from all over the world, from a range of industries, backgrounds and experiences. We believe this gives us a huge advantage both with our customers and in growing our team.