Government launches innovation funding competition for ag sector

Top Crop Manager
Monday, 17 December 2018
By Top Crop Manager
The Government of Canada launches an innovation funding competition, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, for national scale initiatives in automation and digital technology applications in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

The competition hopes to encourage innovation, create jobs and boost the agriculture sector by investing in technology solutions such as precision agriculture platforms, interconnected software and hardware, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain.

The Government is investing in what it already sees as the trend of automation and digital technologies in agriculture and agri-food value chains. Funding between $10 million and $50 million will be provided to a successful application in the competition. Networks and groups of private sector companies, researchers and non-profit organizations that will work collaboratively to develop and deliver automation and digital technology applications for the agriculture and agri-food sector are encouraged to apply.

Applicants will have until Jan. 11, 2019 to submit a declaration of intent and until March 1, 2019 to submit a full application for funding. The information received from applications during the declaration of intent stage will be shared online to foster collaboration among potential applicants.

The Government is seeking proposals for the development and delivery of large-scale, disruptive approaches to automation and digital technologies with applications in the agriculture and agri-food sectors. Proposals should:
  • solve problems through the use of data and technology in the agriculture and agri-food sector, such as automation and robotics, precision agriculture platforms, data and digital solutions, sensors, interconnected software and hardware, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain;
  • include collaborations between businesses (including small and medium-sized enterprises), post-secondary institutions, research institutes, and non‑profit organizations from multiple sectors across Canada;
  • generate strong economic and social benefits, such as private sector investments in R&D, the creation of new intellectual property and innovations, and the development and implementation of new products, processes and services; and
  • bring about positive environmental impacts, such as the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, food waste, water usage and energy consumption.
"Canada's agriculture and food processing sectors have always been fertile ground for innovation. By bringing together private sector companies, post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations, our government is ensuring Canadian farmers and producers have the latest tools and technologies to take full advantage of the digital age," Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, wrote in a statement.

In 2016 the agri-food industry contributed $49.4 billion to Canada's GDP and employed approximately 575,800 people. The recent investment announcement will ensure that the Canadian agriculture sector punches above its weight in a competitive global market.

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