Zone Startups Calgary, an accelerator for pilot-ready tech startups, has partnered with United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative to support early-stage AgTech companies through the accelerator’s program offerings.
“Technology changes rapidly, especially in the agricultural industry, and we recognize the need to… move into the innovation space.
Together, the two organizations will provide startups with access to market, commercialization programming, and other support. Zone Startups typically helps companies with product validation, customer development, mentorship, a network of corporate partners, find seed investments, and also supports activities to raise additional capital.
“Technology changes rapidly, especially in the agricultural industry, and we recognize the need to not only move into the innovation space, but to start driving it for our members,” said Scott Bolton, president and CEO of UFA. “[Zone Startups Calgary]’s mandate and commitment to supporting the development of early-stage companies strongly aligns with UFA’s Innovation Strategy and our core purpose of serving our members with value-add propositions and solutions.”
Zone Startups Calgary is operated by Ryerson Futures, a Toronto-based accelerator program. In 2016, Zone Startups was launched in Calgary to accelerate the commercialization of tech companies within the agricultural, energy, 5G, and transportation sectors.
Ryerson Futures also has operations in Toronto, India, and Vietnam, and has worked with a number of partners, including Barclays, Bombay Stock Exchange, Shell, RBC, Rogers Communications, and TD Bank.
UFA Co-operative is an Alberta-based association of Alberta farmers with more than 120,000 member-owners. UFA’s network includes more than 111 bulk fuel and petroleum locations, 34 farm and ranch supply stores, and a support office located in Calgary.
“UFA has demonstrated their commitment to innovation by funding projects through partnerships with CAP, SIRCA, and Olds College, but also investing time and resources helping leaders of tomorrow fulfill their goals of innovation in agriculture,” said Joe Martini, director of Zone Startups Calgary.
According to a 2019 report from RBC, Canada could gain $11 billion in annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 by accelerating investment in agricultural technology. This, RBC found, would bring agricultural GDP to $51 billion, making it bigger than the automobile assembly and aeronautics sectors combined.
With federal programs like the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3 billion investment program launched by the federal government, Canada is looking to invest in new agricultural innovations. Agriculture is also a vital part of Alberta’s economy, with Alberta’s real gross domestic product for agri-food industries totalled $8.5 billion in 2018.
“As we enter a new decade, it’s even more important that UFA makes the right business decisions, even in a challenging economic and political environment, and invests in diversified solutions for the future so that we remain financially healthy for many years to come,” Bolton added.
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