The 13 projects , announced on Jan. 26 at the 2024 Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford, aim to solve critical challenges facing food producers in B.C., including soil health, pest and pathogen management, Indigenous food sovereignty and training opportunities. Together, they represent a total investment of $2 million, including more than $650,000 from the BCCAI.
"Simon Fraser University is proud to advance British Columbia’s leadership in agritech through the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation," said Dugan O’Neil, SFU vice-president, research and international.
"We are grateful for the government’s support to address challenges in the sector and for the many partnerships that make this work possible. Building a robust agritech ecosystem in B.C. is a win-win-win for small and medium-sized businesses and agri-producers, for communities that rely on agriculture and for the sustainability and resiliency of the province’s food systems."
The BCCAI brings together academia, industry and government to create new opportunities toward food production and security. Located at SFU’s Surrey campus, the BCCAI is funded by the province and the federal government, through Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan).
"B.C.’s agriculture sector is a source of reliable, locally produced food that supports good jobs and a strong economy," said Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan). "By partnering with the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation, the Government of Canada is helping local food producers develop innovative technological solutions to industry challenges and remain competitive for years to come."
The new funding includes a $288,000 project with BW Global Structures Incorporated to pioneer innovative methods to grow new, high-value, outdoor field crops within its cutting-edge and purposed-built sealed greenhouses. The project aims to adapt outdoor plant varieties for greenhouse conditions and to develop optimized cultivation techniques for their intensive year-round production, leading to more B.C. grown food and approximately 16 new jobs in Abbotsford.
"It’s incredible to see the breadth of industry-led projects and training coming from B.C. businesses and academic institutions through the BCCAI," said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. "Results from these new projects will go a long way to ensuring better food security for British Columbians and a more sustainable economy."
Other projects supported by the BCCAI include learning opportunities through organizations like the B.C. Agricultural Climate Action Research Network (ACARN) that will help food producers be more sustainable and resilient to climate change; and Simon Fraser University’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering , where people will receive hands-on learning experience through a six-day workshop working with agritech and creating new employable skills.
"Today marks a significant leap as BCCAI launches 13 projects and training programs, guiding B.C.’s agritech sector towards synergy with Indigenous practices and sustainable innovation to establish global leadership," says Woo Soo Kim, SFU professor and BCCAI scientific director. "We’re thrilled to collaborate with these companies on projects and upskilling programs, positioning B.C. as a global agritech leader and addressing critical agricultural challenges."