The Government of Canada has launched a new funding competition, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, for national scale initiatives in automation and digital technology applications in the agriculture and agri-food sector. Funding of between $10 million and $50 million will be provided to a successful applicant in the competition.
Automation and digital technologies are said to be changing the face of agriculture and agri-food value chains. To capitalize on these changes, the Government is seeking applications for funding from networks and consortia of private sector companies, researchers and non-profit organizations that will work collaboratively to develop and deliver automation and digital technology applications for the agriculture and agri-food sector.
“Canada’s agriculture and food processing sectors have always been fertile ground for innovation,” according to Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “By bringing together private sector companies, post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations, our government is ensuring Canadian farmers and producers have the latest tools and technologies to take full advantage of the digital age.”
The Government is seeking proposals for the development and delivery of large-scale, disruptive approaches to automation and digital technologies with applications in the agriculture and agri-food sectors. Proposals should:
- solve problems through the use of data and technology in the agriculture and agri-food sector, such as automation and robotics, precision agriculture platforms, data and digital solutions, sensors, interconnected software and hardware, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain;
- include collaborations between businesses (including small and medium-sized enterprises), post-secondary institutions, research institutes, and non‑profit organizations from multiple sectors across Canada;
- generate strong economic and social benefits, such as private sector investments in R&D, the creation of new intellectual property and innovations, and the development and implementation of new products, processes and services; and
- bring about positive environmental impacts, such as the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, food waste, water usage and energy consumption.
Applicants will have until January 11, 2019, to submit a Declaration of Intent. The information contained in the Declaration of Intent will be posted online in an effort to foster collaboration among potential applicants. Applicants will have until March 1, 2019, to submit a Full Application for funding under this competition.
These commitments support the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table’s aim to scale up capacity and boost productivity by investing in innovation, increasing market access, and adopting automation and digitization.
In 2016 the agri-food industry contributed $49.4 billion to Canada’s GDP and employed approximately 575,800 people. In addition to the Strategic Innovation Fund, there are numerous programs and services to help businesses innovate, create jobs and grow Canada’s economy. With a simple, story-based user interface, the Innovation Canada platform can match businesses with the most fitting programs and services in about two minutes.