Economic development agencies dole out $30 million to AgTech, AI, EV development

Wyvern, Pure Life Carbon, and Aethon Aerial Solutions among those supported by latest PrairiesCan, FedDev funding.

Canadian economic development agencies have distributed a combined $30 million to support AgTech, artificial intelligence (AI), and electric vehicle (EV) development this week. 

For its part, Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) invested more than $21 million across 14 projects in Alberta, some of which went to hyperspectral satellite imaging startup Wyvern and carbon-based soil alternative company Pure Life Carbon

Meanwhile, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) invested more than $8.5 million across six businesses in the Hamilton, Ont. region, including automated image inspection startup Aethon Aerial Solutions

PrairiesCan made its investments through several federal programs, including the Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program, the Regional Innovation Ecosystems program, the Jobs and Growth Fund (JGF), the Community Economic Development and Diversification (CEDD) program, and the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (ARRI).

RELATED: Wyvern raises $9.45 million CAD in seed-plus round

As part of ARRI, Edmonton-based Wyvern received just under $460,000 from PrairiesCan to launch a new proprietary system and network of satellites. ARRI was established in 2021 to disperse $250 million over three years to help the Canadian aerospace sector emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wyvern raised a $9.45-million “seed-plus” round in November 2022 for its proprietary technology—unfolding hyperspectral satellite imaging cameras that are compact on launch and deploy in space. PrairiesCan said the satellite imaging will increase the adoption of innovative farming solutions, increase agricultural yields, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

Red Deer, Alta.-based clean AgTech manufacturing company Pure Life Carbon received just over $2 million from PrairiesCan to upgrade and expand its existing manufacturing facility to increase production of its proprietary carbon-based soil alternative used in agricultural applications. The funding came from the JGF, which also supported Blackfalds, Alta.-based BiziSul and PIP Lethbridge with establishing a new manufacturing facility to convert sulfur waste into fertilizer and increase manufacturing capacity for plant-based protein products, respectively. 

RELATED: Ottawa companies receive FedDev funding for AI, semiconductor, biotech work 

Meanwhile, FedDev provided Aethon with a repayable $2.5-million investment for its AI and machine learning-powered aerial camera systems. The Burlington, Ont.-based company helps with aerial power line mapping and inspection. 

Aethon claims its autonomous image capture sensor and automated LiDAR processing are controlled by AI, meaning they will automatically capture images without helicopter or drone pilots needing to hover. 

JFE Shoji Power Canada, the Burlington subsidiary of Tokyo-based JFE Shoji Power, received a repayable $1-million investment from FedDev to expand its manufacturing capacity for core components of electric motors. The FedDev contribution is part of a $5.7-million project to help JFE meet growing electrification demands. 

Other FedDev funding went to bioreactor manufacturing startup n!Biomachines, structural steel manufacturer M&G Steel, microbiology firm Merq Automation, and drug discovery firm GL CHEMTEC International. 

Featured image from Luke Thornton via Unsplash.

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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