The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN), a non-profit backed by the federal government, has appointed former Edmonton Unlimited vice president Darrell Petras as its new CEO.
Petras, who was formerly the vice-president of programs and business development with the innovation agency Edmonton Unlimited (formerly Innovate Edmonton), was appointed after a months-long search for CAAIN’s next leader. He is replacing interim CEO Cornelia Kreplin, who took over when former CEO Kerry Wright left in July 2022.
“Never has there been a greater requirement to foster innovation in Canada’s agri-food sector.”
Kreplin, who has worked as an executive director for the Alberta government’s food-safety division as well as Alberta Innovates, was also appointed interim CEO for CAAIN when the organization was created in 2019. Kreplin left when Wright was hired as a permanent CEO in April 2021.
According to CAAIN, it selected Petras to help the organization advance its mandate on growing agriculture’s contribution to Canada’s economy.
With over two decades of experience in business leadership, Petras has worked as a founder, business owner, and business coach. He previously co-founded Alpha Phenomics, which offers solutions for livestock management.
“Never has there been a greater requirement to foster innovation in Canada’s agri-food sector,” Petras said. “We have some very exciting projects on the go, with more on the horizon.”
CAAIN was launched with $49.5 million from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund and assistance from Alberta Innovates in the form of significant in-kind contributions. Though based in Alberta, it is mandated to drive collaborative AgTech research and innovation from across Canada.
In addition to funding AgTech projects, CAAIN acts as an online, member-based network to connect Canada’s agricultural and technology stakeholders. The organization is also developing a digital platform to link nationwide, production-specific networks of smart farms to validate and demonstrate emerging technology from across the country.
Featured image courtesy Edmonton Regional Innovation Network.