The Province is investing in programs that will apply technology and innovation to agriculture to strengthen B.C.’s food security and support economic recovery.
Building on the Food Security Task Force’s recommendations, the new Agritech Concierge will support food producers and agritech innovators, including recipients of the Agritech Grant program, advance their businesses and address the agricultural challenges being faced by the agriculture industry, in B.C. and around the globe.
“Supporting our province’s food producers and agritech innovators is part of building a strong economic recovery for everyone,” said Premier John Horgan. “We’re acting on the valued work and recommendations of our Food Security Task Force. By launching these programs now, our province will reap the benefits of access to homegrown, safe, nutritious and affordable food for generations of British Columbians to come.”
The task force was appointed by Premier Horgan in July 2019 to provide strategic advice and recommendations brought forward in a 2020 Food Security Task Force report. The report outlined how technology and innovation can be developed to strengthen B.C.’s agriculture sector and food security.
Through a suite of services, the Agritech Concierge will help businesses grow, diversify, access new markets and attract investment opportunities. The concierge will provide personalized service to businesses to attract investment capital, navigate government programs and connect with other levels of government.
The concierge will help companies understand and navigate the land opportunities available to grow their businesses and provide advice on how to work with communities to identify opportunities for investment.
“The pandemic has reinforced the vital role our province’s agricultural sector plays in ensuring that British Columbians have access to safe, reliable and sustainable food,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “These investments and the concierge will strengthen our province’s food security, catalyze innovation and ensure the agritech sector will play a key role in our economic recovery.”
After a successful intake of the Agritech Grant program, the B.C. government has increased the program’s funding by an additional $4.5 million, for a total investment of $7.5 million. With this new funding, the number of companies eligible for the Agritech Grant increased from a projected 10 companies to 21. The grants will be awarded to the recipients by March 31, 2021.
Funded projects include the development of custom robotics for safe, efficient berry and mushroom harvesting, low-cost wireless biosensors to monitor pathogens in agriculture and community-scale manure management.
“We remain fully committed to increasing our food security in B.C.,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “Agritech is one of the ways to do that, and by supporting agritech businesses and entrepreneurs, we can continue to develop and create a world-leading agritech sector that will help increase our domestic food production, strengthen our domestic resiliency and expand our reach into international markets.”
As part of its inaugural work, the Agritech Concierge will support grant recipient companies to scale up, expand and develop technologies to help increase regenerative and sustainable food production in B.C. It will also facilitate pathways for international and out-of-province companies to locate and expand within B.C.
The Agritech Grant program is part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. The plan focuses on recovery that is innovative, sustainable and inclusive. It outlines the latest steps the Government of British Columbia is taking to help people, businesses and communities come out of COVID-19 stronger, without leaving people behind.
Peter Dhillon, chair, B.C.’s Food Security Task Force –
“To drive the agritech sector forward, the Food Security Task Force laid out an ambitious, built-in-B.C. plan. Our final report outlines recommendations that focus on opportunities to increase innovation and develop technologies to support the future of this sector and ensure B.C. is globally recognized. I am pleased to see this work materialize. The task force looks forward to its continued engagement with government to further the task force’s recommendations.”
Hamlet Abnousi, co-founder and CEO, Novobind Livestock Therapeutics, Vancouver –
“We would like to thank the B.C. government for the Agritech grant. This funding is the boost we need to further our research and development of biologics as a safe way to fight rising resistance to anti-infectives in livestock, aquaculture and pets. Our complementary alternative to conventional treatments will help ensure our food, our communities and our homes are clean and safe.”
Timothy Kendrick, BW GLOBAL, Abbotsford –
“We are incredibly grateful to receive the StrongerBC Agritech grant. This grant will help build the Better World Innovation Centre where we will develop, demonstrate and deploy new, commercial-scale agritech and clean tech on our 45-acre regenerative organic farm. Our aim is to have business, government and academia focus on real world solutions to improve food security in B.C. and around the world.”
Jeff Booth, board chair, CubicFarm Systems Corp. –
“B.C. companies are developing innovative solutions to promote social good, reduce our food waste and address other social and environmental challenges. The agritech concierge and grants will help agritech businesses scale up and anchor in the province, resulting in a world-class sector that is a strong contributor to our economic prosperity.”
- Applications for the Agritech Grant program opened Dec. 11, 2020, and closed Feb. 12, 2021.
- Over 100 applications were received for the Agritech Grant program, with 21 grant recipients.
- Disbursed grants range from $150,000 to $500,000.
- The Agritech Concierge program is open to high-growth potential companies that are a B.C.-based technology or agritech company, agricultural producer or agri-food company. Consideration will be given to companies outside of B.C. that intend to establish operations in B.C. in the near term.
- Agritech refers to the use of technology and technological innovation to improve efficiency and output of agricultural production. Examples of agritech include indoor growing, vertical growing, sensor technology, robotics, food processing technology, agricultural genomics and waste reduction technology.
To learn more about the Agritech Grant program, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/agritechgrant
To learn more about the Agritech Concierge program and eligibility criteria, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/economic-recovery/agritech-concierge
To learn more about the Food Security Task Force and its recommendations, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/121/2020/01/FSTF-Report-2020-The-Future-of-Food.pdf
To learn more about Agritech in British Columbia, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/ministries/agriculture
For more information on StrongerBC, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
Two backgrounders follow.