New protein supercluster project to improve transparency and productivity of Canadian farms

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

February 27, 2020 – Calgary, Alberta

The Government of Canada is committed to growing the economy, creating middle class jobs and keeping Canada competitive. That is why the Government introduced the Innovation Superclusters Initiative, which brings together small, medium-sized and large companies, academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations to serve as anchors of innovation, growth and job creation across the country.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced a new project supported by the Protein Industries Supercluster that will use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to make farming more transparent, efficient and profitable. The data collected by a consortium of agri-food, digital mapping and technology firms aims to reinforce Canada’s reputation as a global supplier of sustainable and traceable food.

The project brings together four small and medium-sized enterprises (SME): Provision Analytics, Verge Technologies, Skymatics (all based in Calgary, Alberta) and Coutts Agro (based in Kindersley, Saskatchewan). Together, they will capture data from farms across western Canada on activities like seeding and fertilizer application and on fuel consumption and the wear and tear of machinery. This data set will support food ingredient traceability and reduce the amount of critical farm inputs such as fuel and seed, making farms more sustainable.

For example, this project is expected to help cereal producers know if the oats they use have been treated with undesirable herbicides, a key consideration for many consumers. Similarly, canola producers can back up their sustainable agriculture claim by pointing to data showing a smaller carbon footprint from lower fuel consumption and eco-friendly tilling practices.

Quotes

“The Protein Industries Supercluster project is showing the way for increased collaboration between SMEs by bringing together partners from across the agriculture value chain. Both Canadian consumers and farmers will benefit from reliable farm-level data that can support Canada’s reputation as a supplier of traceable food ingredients and a champion of sustainable farming practices.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“This project is truly ground-breaking for the Canadian agriculture and food sector, ensuring that Canada’s reputation as a safe and reliable supplier of healthy, sustainably produced food is protected. The collaboration and scope of this project, from on-farm through to processing, captures the spirit of the supercluster. By bringing together partners from across the value chain, the project will improve the traceability of our agri-food products across the chain of custody and provide metrics for sustainability initiatives.”

– Bill Greuel, CEO, Protein Industries Canada

Quick facts

  • This project represents a total investment of up to $9.2 million, including up to $4.6 million from the Government of Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative and $4.6 million in contributions from industry and academia.

  • Under an agreement signed with Protein Industries Canada, the Government of Canada is investing up to nearly $153 million in the supercluster, with industry expected to match dollar for dollar in project value over a five-year horizon.

  • The Protein Industries Supercluster is expected to create more than 4,500 jobs and add more than $4.5 billion to Canada’s economy over 10 years.

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