The British Columbia (BC) government, in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU), is launching a new innovation centre dedicated to building and commercializing agtech innovation.
The province is contributing an up to $6.5 million investment over three years for the centre, while the federal government is providing as much as $10 million over five years through Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan).
Named the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation, the hub will be located at SFU’s Surrey Campus and officially open in September. It aims to bring together academic institutions, government, and industry partners to focus on developing, testing, and piloting solutions in simulated and real-world environments.
Key components of the centre, according to the BC government, will be to create economic opportunities for Indigenous people and help small to medium-sized agtech businesses scale up, increase profits, and create good-paying jobs.
With the investments from the provincial and federal governments, the centre is expected to create around 200 jobs and help train more than 700 workers. The contributions will also support the addition of 30 new agtech projects throughout BC by 2025, which will be achieved by working with BC’s post-secondary institutions such as SFU, the University of the Fraser Valley, Thompson Rivers University, the University of Northern B.C., and the University of Victoria.
According to BC, it is currently home to more than 150 agtech companies, operating in areas such as food processing, precision agriculture, bioproducts, food safety, as well as soil and crop technology. This includes Semios, which secured $100 million last year; and Terramera, which received $1 million from BC’s Innovative Clean Energy Fund in April after securing $64.1 million CAD in Series B capital, and being named to the 2019 Global Cleantech 100 list.
This new centre builds on previous efforts made by the provincial government to scale agtech innovation across the province.
In 2019, BC established the Food Security Task Force to provide recommendations to the provincial government on how to grow the agriculture and food sector through technology and innovation.
Most recently, BC’s Ministry of Agriculture worked with cleantech accelerator Foresight to deliver the Agriculture Venture Acceleration Program, providing mentorship, coaching, and training support to early stage, BC-based entrepreneurs.
In partnership with the Government of Canada and Innovate BC, the province’s Ministry of Agriculture also established the Agritech Innovation Challenge to identify solutions to problems faced by BC’s agriculture and food industry.
Featured image from Luke Thornton via Unsplash.