Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The province is establishing a new agritech innovation center

A new B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation will strengthen the Province’s position as a global leader in agricultural technology, assisting in improving food security in B.C. and around the world while creating hundreds of well-paying jobs.

The new center, a core commitment of the StrongerBC Economic Plan, will be placed on Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Surrey campus. The center will bring academic, government, and industrial partners together to construct more productive, varied, and resilient food supply chains (the triple-helix model).

“The past two years have been challenging ones for British Columbians as the pandemic, climate-related emergencies and global conflicts have disrupted supply chains and raised the cost of food,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Launching this B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation will improve productivity here in B.C., meaning more food will be grown closer to home, leading to lower costs associated with transporting food. Simply put, this centre makes us a global front-runner in agritech.”

The Province will invest up to $6.5 million in the center over three years, while the federal government will contribute up to $10 million over five years through Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan).

The center, set to open in September, has begun accepting applications from small and medium-sized agritech businesses around the Province. The center will concentrate on designing, testing, and piloting farm-ready technologies in simulated and real-world scenarios. The center’s key components will generate economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples and assist small and medium-sized agritech enterprises in scaling up, increasing profitability, and creating well-paying jobs.

The BC Agritech Concierge Program, the Agritech Grant Program, and the Canada/BC Agri-Innovation Program are the former and ongoing provincial subsidies for this burgeoning sector. By bringing these partners together, the center will also help the Province’s efforts to establish the Regenerative Agriculture and Agritech Network (RAAN).

The Province has awarded $7.5 million through the Agritech Grant Program to assist 21 agritech enterprises in developing technology to boost productivity and food security. Kahlon and Popham inked an agreement this year between the Province of British Columbia and the Netherlands to help guarantee British Columbia’s food supply by expanding agritech opportunities in both jurisdictions. This action plan focuses on specific initiatives for increasing collaboration between the governments of British Columbia and the Netherlands in science, academia, and business.

The StrongerBC Economic Plan propels British Columbia forward by addressing today’s challenges while developing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds on British Columbia’s robust economic recovery. It aims to address two long-standing issues: inequality and climate change, by narrowing the skills gap, establishing resilient communities, and assisting businesses and individuals in transitioning to clean-energy alternatives. The plan establishes two critical goals for the Province: inclusive and clean growth and six tasks to keep British Columbia on track.