Future direction of B.C.’s agriculture industry examined

Agritech Innovation Challenge matches food and tech with opportunity in conference taking place in Kelowna.

  • Oct. 31, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Innovation in agriculture will be the topic of discussion at the BC Agrifood and Seafood Conference taking place in Kelowna.

Kelowna will play host to some of B.C.’s best  tech-heads, food producers and venture capitalists to discuss finding ways to develop new agri-technology and enhance the competitiveness and resiliency of the provincial agri-food sector.

The Agritech Innovation Challenge will launch Growing the Future Together at the BC Agrifood and Seafood Conference here in Kelowna on Nov.14.

The provincial government and BC Innovation Council will lead the event with the intent to challenge participants to develop a product or process that promotes overall food-supply security for the B.C. by addressing these points:

* 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 concern through optimization of nutrient application and nutrient recovery.

Conference 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 an 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 B.C. government encourages innovation across the B.C. agrifood and seafood sector and that includes trying and evaluating new technology,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, who is also the provincial minister of agriculture.

“The lessons learned through the Agritech Innovation challenge will help drive our sector’s competitiveness and long term growth as we work towards increasing B.C. agrifood and seafood sector revenues to $15 billion per year by 2020.”

Linda Delli Santi, executive director, BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association, said her group looks forward to the Agritech Innovation Challenge.

“We are always excited to discuss new ideas and innovations. This event represents an excellent opportunity to bring B.C.innovators together with industry to discuss, identify and explore gaps that innovation can provide solutions for,” said Delli Santi.

Shirley Vickers, president and CEO, BC Innovation Council, is enthused by the prospect of technology and agriculture proponents coming together to seek out solutions to future food supply challenges.

“B.C. technology solutions deployed across sectors can solve real problems in B.C. and around the world. B Innovation Council is proud to be providing opportunities to access new markets for B.C. innovators; opportunities for the agriculture an agrifood sector to leverage home-grown innovation to stay competitive; and opportunities for industry to generate high-paying jobs and robust economic growth,” Vickers said.

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