Agritech Innovation Challenge

Victoria/Fraser Valley/Kelowna – British Columbia innovators have a date booked with some of the province’s best tech-heads, food producers and venture capitalists in a challenge to develop new agri-technology and enhance the competitiveness and resiliency of B.C.’s agri-food sector.

The Agritech Innovation Challenge will launch Growing the Future Together – BC Agrifood and Seafood Conference, on Nov. 14, 2016, in Kelowna. The B.C. government and BC Innovation Council will lead the event that will challenge entrants to develop a product or process that promotes overall food-supply security for the Province of British Columbia by addressing one of the following (see backgrounder for details):

  • Enhancing productivity and profitability through enhanced mechanization and storage solutions for blueberries and other field crops;
  • Minimizing losses through pest management solutions;
  • Promoting sustainable practices and finding efficiencies in B.C. greenhouses;
  • Creating new revenue streams and addressing environmental concerns through optimization of nutrient application and nutrient recovery.

Entrants will receive detailed briefings and information packages at the event, and have the opportunity to discuss their ideas with technology, entrepreneurship and agriculture sector experts.  Following the challenge, entrants will have a couple of weeks to refine their ideas and seek input and advice from colleagues before submitting a proposal for a product or process in late November. Submissions will be judged by a panel of experts and a shortlist of successful candidates will advance toward funding opportunities, as well as an opportunity to pitch their innovation at the #BCTech Summit in March 2017.

The challenge aims to support:

  • Agri-food companies to explore the potential benefits of tech adoption;
  • Agritech companies to mold product innovation to better serve the agri-food industry; and
  • B.C. tech companies to discover a growing market opportunity.

Agri-tech helps support agriculture in communities throughout the province and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan’s goals of increasing farmland in production by 91,000 hectares, and the sector generating $15 billion in annual revenue by 2020.

The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity throughout the province. In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and outstanding networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: http://bctechsummit.ca/

The challenge is a partnership between the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and the BC Innovation Council and funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that provides a $3-billion investment over five years in innovation, competitiveness and market development.

Quotes:

Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food –

“Our government is pleased to support the Agritech Innovation Challenge where agri-tech companies and food producers will explore innovative ways to enhance productivity and sustainability in the agriculture sector. Innovation is a cornerstone of our government’s plan to create good jobs in the agri-food sector and grow the middle class.”

Norm Letnick, B.C. Minister of Agriculture –

The B.C. government encourages innovation across the B.C. agrifood and seafood sector and that includes trying and evaluating new technology. The lessons learned through the Agritech Innovation challenge will help drive our sector’s competitiveness and long term growth as we work towards increasing B.C. agrifood and seafood sector revenues to $15 billion per year by 2020.”

Jason Smith, past chair, BC Blueberry Council –

“British Columbia’s blueberry sector produces high-quality highbush blueberries that are enjoyed in Canada and worldwide. The Agritech Innovation Challenge is a great way to connect technology companies and researchers with the blueberry industry to improve productivity, grower profits and consumer satisfaction which is something that would benefit all B.C. blueberry growers.”

Linda Delli Santi, executive director, BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association –

“The BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association looks forward to the Agritech Innovation Challenge. We are always excited to discuss new ideas and innovations. This event represents an excellent opportunity to bring B.C. innovators together with industry to discuss, identify and explore gaps that innovation can provide solutions for.”

Shirley Vickers, president and CEO, BC Innovation Council

“We’re thrilled to be working with the Ministry of Agriculture to bring together two strong economic drivers — agriculture and technology — for our Agritech Innovation Challenge. B.C. technology solutions deployed across sectors can solve real problems in B.C. and around the world. BC Innovation Council is proud to be providing opportunities to access new markets for B.C. innovators; opportunities for the agriculture and agrifood sector to leverage home-grown innovation to stay competitive; and opportunities for industry to generate high-paying jobs and robust economic growth.”

Learn More:

The Agritech Innovation Challenge: https://agritechinnovation.ca/

B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Conference: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/agrifood-seafood-conf-2016/conference-home

BC Innovation Council: http://www.bcic.ca 

#BCTECH Strategy: http://www.bctechstrategy.ca

#BCTECH Summit March 14-15, 2017 http://bctechsummit.ca/

For more information on Growing Forward 2 programs in British Columbia, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/growing-forward-2

For more information on Growing Forward 2, visit: http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/about-us/key-departmental-initiatives/growing-forward-2/?id=1294780620963

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