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Innovation Challenge Winners Bring Local Tech To B.C. Farms

Fraser Valley/Victoria – Four British Columbia companies have each won $20,000 for developing B.C. tech to help solve a problem identified as part of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and the BC Innovation Council’s Innovation Challenge.

The winning companies are using local tech to deter birds from B.C. berry farms, provide up-to-the-minute health checks on crops, turn B.C. wood waste into fully compostable yarn for farm uses, and improve nutrient recovery from farm waste.

The winners are:

  • Fraser Valley-based gUAVas developed software that turns unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) into berry and fruit guards by patrolling the farm. In addition to motion, the drones use noise and light to scare birds away. The locally developed technology can help reduce the estimated $59 million worth of crops B.C. farmers lose to bird pests each year and replace other techniques, such as netting, cannons and manual labour.
  • For greenhouse growers of high-value crops, Ecoation Innovation Solutions (EIS) of North Vancouver provides the earliest possible detection of pests, diseases and deficiencies that affect crop value. EIS collects data directly on plant state and uses proprietary software to predict crop health. EIS Crop Sense system brings growers’ crop status to their desktop or smart phone daily. With the EIS system, growers can take immediate actions that increase crop value, reduce operating costs and reduce pesticide use. The made-in-B.C. technology is available now with paid field trials underway in B.C. greenhouses.
  • Vancouver’s Boost Environmental Systems developed an easy-to-set-up and easy-to-integrate anaerobic digestion pre-treatment technology that results in increased production of biogas which is used for energy, and the recovery of a high-quality fertilizer product that the farm can use on the land or sell.
  • Gordon Shank Consulting of Burnaby designed an industrial-strength, fully-compostable yarn made from cellulose that can be used for plants in greenhouses. The company’s BioMid yarn is made from B.C. forest product waste and replaces the synthetic, polypropylene yarns currently used. Unlike the polypropylene yarn, it can be composted directly and does not need to be manually separated from organic wastes for proper disposal.

The winners were selected by a panel of experts, with representatives of the BC Innovation Council, the BC Agriculture Council, Genome BC, the National Research Council, the Investment Agriculture Foundation, SRC Tec, Bioenterprise BC and the federal and provincial governments.

The Agritech Innovation Challenge is a partnership between the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and the BC Innovation Council with $80,000 in funding provided through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that provides a $3-billion investment over five years in innovation, competitiveness and market development. The challenge was launched in November 2016 and brought together innovators with industry to develop a product or process to enhance productivity, sustainability and resiliency of B.C.’s agrifood sector.

The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of British Columbia’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen B.C.’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.

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

“Congratulations to the winners of the Innovation Challenge. These four companies have used innovative methods to develop sustainable solutions in the agri-tech sector and are a fine example of where the industry is headed. The Government is proud to support their efforts in strengthening B.C.’s prosperous agri-food industry.”

Norm Letnick, B.C. Agriculture Minister

“Made-in-B.C. tech is everywhere in our daily lives, and the winners of the Innovation Challenge are extending that reach into agriculture. Successful farming and food production in current times involves the same passion, care and attention to detail as it did in generations before. But the technology involved is incredible and a key reason why B.C.’s agrifoods sector continues to grow, setting record annual revenues of $13 billion, and creating 6,100 new jobs from the year before.”

Gordon Shank, Gordon Shank Consulting –

“I returned to B.C. after a career with projects in around 30 countries, because the energy, growth and opportunity in the B.C. tech sector drew me back. I see innovation, especially in the ag-sector, mainly consisting of incremental major developments, but in between these milestones is an incredible potential for small-scale revolutions, like BioMid yarn. In my experience the support from the National Research Council and the B.C. Government is unrivalled, and I’m already eyeing-up solving some new challenges within this mountain of opportunity. There is plenty of room and I’d encourage everyone to jump on board!”

Sergey Lobanov, president, Boost Environmental Systems –

“The Agritech Innovation Challenge was an excellent opportunity for us to reach out to the farmers and help them to address some of the problems they are currently experiencing. It was also very important for us as a start-up company to validate our technology for this market and demonstrate all the benefits our solution can offer. We really appreciate the opportunity that the B.C. Government has given to us.”

Saber Miresmailli, founder and CEO, Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc. –

“I am pleased to accept this award on behalf of the company. This culminates more than 10 years of R&D to complete our product. We are now moving forward with product commercialization, first in North America and then globally. ”

Milad Sakiani, gUAVas co-founder –

“The Agritech Innovation Challenge funding will accelerate our ability to grow and provide services to farmers in B.C. to increase their crop yields. It will also help us open doors to the wider agricultural community in the province, and we are excited to hear from more growers who can benefit from our pest bird deterrence service.”

Carl Anderson, president and CEO, BC Innovation Council –

“We’re pleased to support the transfer of technology into B.C.’s $13-billion agriculture industry, fueling its growth and competitiveness. Through initiatives like the Agritech Innovation Challenge, we can help grow the agrifood sector with technology, and create jobs in regional communities across B.C.”

Learn More:

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

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