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The Agritech Innovation Challenge is helping B.C. producers and processors grow

Agritech Innovation Challenge winners announced

Posted on August 8, 2019

In March 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with Innovate BC started looking for B.C.-based technology solutions to serve the needs of the Province’s agriculture industry through the Agritech Innovation Challenge. Last week the Ministry announced the three Agritech Innovation Challenge winners who will receive a total of $150,000 in funding. These projects will see B.C. beekeepers gain an edge in the battle with the varroa mite, mushroom producers use robots to harvest and winemakers produce their product more efficiently. Read more about the three challenge winners below:

  • Researchers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) will continue to explore how a non-toxic chemical compound can target the varroa mite, a pest that can cause significant bee colony loss. “I am honoured to have been selected for the Agritech Innovation Challenge 2019,” says SFU Chemistry professor Erika Plenter. “Control of the varroa mite is needed to protect and enhance [beekeeping] and associated agricultural productivity in British Columbia.” Results from this study could lead to healthier hives in B.C., an increased availability of local pollinators, improved honey production and a reduction in imported bee colonies.
  • Vancouver’s BarrelWise Technologies Ltd. has developed a barrel plug and dispensing system that allows wine barrels to remain sealed during the entire aging process, reducing the risk of contamination and the amount of sulphur needed to control it. “As a young business, BarrelWise resources are rather limited. This award goes a long way toward helping our venture build a product that is genuinely valuable to the B.C. winemaking industry,” says BarrelWise CEO Jason Sparrow. The new system will track data, allowing the winemaker to monitor each barrel in production.
  • Salmon Arm’s Technology Brewing Corporation is developing a vision-guided robot capable of accurately picking, trimming and placing mushrooms in store-ready boxes. This project could help get B.C. mushrooms to market quicker and help address the mushroom sector’s labour shortage. President and CEO Mike Bourdeau says this “is a very large and technically challenging project with many parts. It will not only benefit the mushroom industry, but help shine a light on B.C.’s high-tech sector as well.”

Each of the three projects will receive $50,000 from the federally and provincially funded Agritech Innovation Challenge, which aims to increase the efficiency, sustainability and competitiveness of B.C.’s agriculture, food and seafood industries, while providing tech companies with access to new customers and products with global market potential. Learn more about the Innovate BC’s Innovation Challenge process here.

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