British Columbia innovators have a date booked with some of the province’s best tech-heads, food producers and venture capitalists in a challenge to develop new agri-technology and enhance the competitiveness and resiliency of B.C.’s agri-food sector.

The Agritech Innovation Challenge will launch Growing the Future Together – BC Agrifood and Seafood Conference, on Nov. 14, 2016, in Kelowna. The B.C. government and BC Innovation Council will lead the event that will challenge entrants to develop a product or process that promotes overall food-supply security for the Province of British Columbia by addressing one of the following (see backgrounder for details):

  • Enhancing productivity and profitability through enhanced mechanization and storage solutions for blueberries and other field crops;
  • Minimizing losses through pest management solutions;
  • Promoting sustainable practices and finding efficiencies in B.C. greenhouses;
  • Creating new revenue streams and addressing environmental concerns through optimization of nutrient application and nutrient recovery.

Entrants will receive detailed briefings and information packages at the event, and have the opportunity to discuss their ideas with technology, entrepreneurship and agriculture sector experts.  Following the challenge, entrants will have a couple of weeks to refine their ideas and seek input and advice from colleagues before submitting a proposal for a product or process in late November. Submissions will be judged by a panel of experts and a shortlist of successful candidates will advance toward funding opportunities, as well as an opportunity to pitch their innovation at the #BCTech Summit in March 2017.

The challenge aims to support:

  • Agri-food companies to explore the potential benefits of tech adoption;
  • Agritech companies to mold product innovation to better serve the agri-food industry; and
  • B.C. tech companies to discover a growing market opportunity.

Agri-tech helps support agriculture in communities throughout the province and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan’s goals of increasing farmland in production by 91,000 hectares, and the sector generating $15 billion in annual revenue by 2020.

The BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity throughout the province. In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s second BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and outstanding networking opportunities.

The challenge is a partnership between the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and the BC Innovation Council and funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that provides a $3-billion investment over five years in innovation, competitiveness and market development.