Canadian agri-food network receives $49.5 million to develop agri-tech solutions


The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN), a $108.5 million project aimed at developing exportable farming solutions, has received an investment of “up to” $49.5 million from the federal government.

“Automation and digital technologies are changing the face of the agriculture and agri-food sector.”

The project, which is being led by Alberta Innovates and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, along with Alberta’s Olds College and Lakeland College, is expected to begin with eight partners from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec. The project will specifically look at technologies using artificial intelligence, robotics, and precision agriculture.

“Automation and digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics are changing the face of the agriculture and agri-food sector,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food. “With this investment, we are helping the sector gain the competitive edge it needs to continue to thrive at home and in global markets.”

CAAIN hopes to bring together the private sector, academia, and research institutions to accelerate automation and digitization in Canada’s agricultural sector. It will use Olds College’s Smart Farm as a hub to develop and test the new technologies. The solutions will be focused on reducing reliance on temporary labour, increasing global competitiveness, and improving profitability for Canadian farmers.

The network will begin with eight members across five provinces, including:

  • Alberta Innovates
  • Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
  • Olds College
  • Lakeland College
  • Linamar Corp.
  • MDA
  • DOT Technology Corp
  • TrustBIX
  • “Demand is growing for Canada to help feed a hungry planet, and our new technologies, approaches and processes, in conjunction with meaningful partnerships, will strengthen our agricultural sector and help meet that demand,” said Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates. “CAAIN will build on innovation within the agricultural sector by bringing technology to market, applying data and new problem-solving technologies like artificial intelligence, and identifying opportunities for collaboration across the value chain between sectors.”

    RELATED: Federal government opens fifth stream of Strategic Innovation Fund

    This investment is being made through Stream 4 of the Strategic Innovation Fund, a program designed to attract and support high-quality business investments in Canada’s most dynamic and innovative sectors. CAAIN is one of two winning projects to receive Strategic Innovation Fund support following a competition that was first announced last December.

    “The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network’s work to build on Canada’s strengths in artificial intelligence, robotics and precision agriculture to develop exportable farming solutions will be critical to ensuring this vital sector continues to grow for years to come,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development.

    Image courtesy Unsplash

    Isabelle Kirkwood

    Isabelle Kirkwood

    Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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