Agritech Innovation Challenge

Agritech Innovation Challenge

The Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with Innovate BC, is seeking technology solutions that serve the needs of the Province’s agriculture and seafood industries.

About the challenge

Agritech Innovation Challenge

The Ministry of Agriculture works collaboratively with BC’s agriculture and seafood industries to improve the sustainability and security of BC’s food supply by improving production methods and ensuring the highest standards in animal care and food safety. The Ministry, in partnership with Innovate BC, presents the Agritech Innovation Challenge and is seeking technology solutions that serve the needs of the Province’s agriculture, agrifood and seafood industries.  

The Opportunity:

A total of $150,000 in funding is available to winners of the Agritech Challenge. In addition to seed funding, winners will receive mentorship support, Market-Validation Training (MVT) through the Agriculture Venture Acceleration Program, and other opportunities, to produce and demonstrate a proof-of-concept. Winners of the Challenge will be invited to pitch their solutions at Ag Innovation Day in January 2020 at the Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford.  

Submissions will be reviewed by experts and leaders from the industry who will consider the following criteria: 

  • Innovation: The solution includes a technology that is new to BC, a new application of technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the Challenge. 
  • Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to positively impact BC (economically, socially, environmentally, etc.). 
  • Scalability: The solution addresses an existing or emerging market demand and is practical, easy to implement and economical for potential users.
  • Feasibility: The solution is scalable and demonstrates strong potential for commercialization and adoption.

 Submit your innovative ideas, inspired by the challenges below. 

The Challenges:

1. Food Processing Technologies – BC‘s food and beverage processors produce over $9.8 billion worth of food each year, representing 70% of total agrifood revenues for the Province. With a shortage of skilled and unskilled labourers in BC and beyond, processors continue to be faced with operational challenges. To address this labour shortage and enhance the efficiency of the processing sector, innovations are sought that will improve processing mechanization and automation. Innovations for this challenge should consider technologies and solutions that are best suited to micro and small-scale processors in BC. 

Examples of potential innovations in this area: 

  • Mechanizations or automations for shucking shellfish (i.e., oysters, mussels and clams) 
  • Processing technologies specifically suited for plant-based protein processing 
  • Processing technologies for freezing, drying or peeling fresh fruits and vegetables 

Food Processing Technologies: Presentation Deck

2. Agriculture, Agrifood and Seafood Traceability Technologies –Traceability systems make it possible to follow the movement of animals, plants and foods from farm to the consumer through all points of a production and distribution system. With increased demand for food and export growth, our food supply chains are becoming more complex, making it difficult to trace food items back to their place of origin. Innovations are sought that will provide user-friendly and economical traceability options to micro and small-scale producers and processors in BC. Innovations for this challenge should consider existing and emerging market and regulatory traceability requirements. 

Examples of potential innovations in this area: 

  • An app or software that allows for traceability data to be uploaded at multiple points along the value or processing-chain  
  • An app or software that can accept and/or read multiple types of data along the value or processing-chain (i.e., phone camera sensor data, temperature reader data, rapid DNA test data) 

Agriculture, Agrifood and Seafood Traceability Technologies: Presentation Deck

3. Precision Agriculture Technologies and Bioproducts – Through the adoption of precision agriculture technologies and the manufacturing of bioproducts (from agricultural waste streams), agricultural producers can reduce the negative environmental impacts that result from their operations. With increasing regulatory requirements and interest from producers and consumers to protect our environment, the demand for precision agriculture technology and bioproducts production is increasing. Innovations are sought that allow for improved adaptation and adoption of precision tools, technologies and practices in agricultural operations in BC. Innovations are also sought that allow for the transformation of agriculture waste streams or outputs into renewable products (other than food and feed) in BC. 

Examples of potential innovations in this area: 

  • Wireless sensors linked to an integrated, data processing or big data analytics platform, allowing farmers to better measure or monitor their on-farm or in-field nutrients 
  • Bio-plastics developed from nonfood-based agricultural feedstocks as substitutes for conventional hydrocarbon-based plastics 
  • Bio-based materials (i.e., nutrients, bio-chemicals, fertilizers, fuels) produced from agricultural waste streams 

Precision Agriculture Technologies and Bioproducts: Presentation Deck

Challenge eligibility

To be eligible for this Challenge, companies and researchers must: 

  • Be primarily located in British Columbia 
  • Be incorporated in Canada 
  • Have 100 or fewer employees* 

*Researchers who are employed by post-secondary institutions of over 100+ staff are exempt from this requirement.

Past Challenge participants are eligible to apply with new solutions that have not been previously funded through the Agritech Innovation Challenge.  

Why get involved:

 The benefits for innovators include: 

  • Opportunities to access seed funding to advance new technologies 
  • Mentorship and support through Innovate BC’s Agriculture Venture Accelerator Program (AVAP) 
  • Exposure to new industries, clients, funding agencies, investors, media, and the general public 
  • Showcase of your solution at the annual Ag Innovation Day (Pacific Agriculture Show) in January 2020 

 The benefits for BC’s agriculture sector include: 

  • Increasing provincial agrifood revenues by driving competitiveness, increasing efficiency and production 
  • Building more resiliency in the sector by addressing challenges to labour supply and environmental impact 
  • Creating more opportunities to explore new markets through emerging technologies 

Challenge process:

  • Stage 1: Letters of Interest submitted and reviewed 
  • Stage 2: Short-listed applicants receive mentorship and invited to submit full proposal 
  • Stage 3: Winners go through a 6 month “Proof-of-Concept” phase 
  • Stage 4: PoC Demo Day where winners present how their solutions have advanced 

Key dates:

  • April 17, 2019: Open call for Letters of Interest (LOI) 
  • May 2, 2019: Information and Q&A Session (In-Person or Remote) 
  • May 14, 2019: Deadline for LOI submissions 
  • May 22, 2019: Shortlisted applicants are invited to submit a full proposal 
  • June 24, 2019: Deadline for full proposal submissions 
  • July 8, 2019: Challenge winners will be notified
  • August 2019 – January 2020: 6-month Proof-of-Concept development 
  • End of January 2020: Demo Day @ Ag Innovation Day (Pacific Agriculture Show)

Note: dates above are subject to change.

If you would like updates about future challenge opportunities, sign up for the Innovate BC newsletter.

Partners

Funding for the Agritech Innovation Challenge has been provided by the Government of British Columbia and the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

  • Canadian Agriculture Partnership
  • Government of British Columbia
  • Government of Canada

Can I partner with other organizations (researchers, contractors, etc.) on a submission?

Yes, you may partner with other organizations to submit a solution. However, applications must be submitted by a lead applicant who meets all the eligibility requirements, and if selected as a winner, funds will only be disbursed to the lead applicant. Please state all partners and their roles in your LOI submission.

As a researcher at post-secondary institution, do I apply as an individual or on behalf of the post-secondary institution?

If you choose to apply as an individual, you must apply as an incorporated company. Otherwise, you may also apply as a researcher on behalf of the post-secondary institution with which you are associated, and if chosen as a winner, Innovate BC will engage in a contract with and disburse funds to the post-secondary institution.

Can the funding be used solely for research and development, or does this need to be a commercialized solution?

We encourage researchers to apply with their solutions, but there must be a plan for commercialization of the solution.

Are entities outside of the Lower Mainland eligible to apply?

Yes, the Challenge invites and encourages applications from entities across the province.

Can I apply under more than one category? Do I need to submit two applications?

If your solution falls under more than one category, you can mention this in your LOI submission. You do not need to submit two applications.

What is the funding available?

A total of $150,000 in funding is available to be won by participants of the Agritech Challenge.

How will the funding be awarded?

Funding ranging between $25,000 – $100,000 will be awarded to the winner(s). We anticipate up to 3 winners will be selected; however, this number is dependent on the quality and quantity of applications submitted.

When do you decide how much funding each Winner will receive?

The specific amount of funding will be decided at the Full Proposal stage; decisions will be based on the projects’ demonstrated impacts and outcomes.

What expenses are covered through the funding?

Expenses that would qualify for funding include:

  • Research: Materials, supplies, and equipment directly related to the scientific or technical research necessary for advancing the solution towards commercialization (e.g. prototyping, scale-up, product refinement, validation studies, etc.);
  • Commercialization: Materials and supplies directly related to supporting technology evaluation and prototype development;
  • Administrative costs*: Salaries/stipends for full-time or part-time employees and/or students or interns who are directly supporting the project; costs associated with planning, promotion, communications and/or public relations; promotional material for conferences and tradeshows; and travel costs directly associated with supporting the project.

*a maximum of 20% of the awarded funding can be applied towards administration costs

When does the funding need to be used?

The funding must be used within the 6-month Proof-of-Concept development phase.

Do I need to disclose how the funding will be spent at the LOI stage?

No. If you are invited to proceed to the Full Proposal stage, you will be asked to state how the funding will be spent. If you are selected as a winner, you will need to submit a budget for the Statement of Work.

Will there be a winner for each category?

Submissions must fall under one of the Challenge categories to be eligible but will be judged independently. Depending on the quality and quantity of applications submitted, there may not be winners in all categories.

Can I submit links, attachments or photos in the Letter of Intent (LOI)?

The Review Panel will only be reviewing text content within the LOI, so any external links, photos or attachments will not be considered in the scoring. If you feel that the information is relevant and significant to the application, we encourage you to include or describe the content in the submission itself.

What other benefits are there to applying?

Shortlisted applicants will be offered mentorship support to help with their full proposals. In addition to funding, winners will also receive Market-Validation Training (MVT) through Innovate BC’s Entrepreneurs in Residence to produce and demonstrate a proof-of-concept and will be invited to pitch their solutions at the Ag Innovation Day at the Pacific Agriculture Show (Abbotsford) in January 2020. Other benefits to participation include exposure to new industries, clients, funding agencies, investors, media, and the general public.

Is the mentorship support mandatory to participate?

No, the mentorship support is an optional offered resource. Companies who do not participate will not be penalized.

How will the winners be selected?

Submissions will be reviewed under the following criteria:

  • Innovation: The solution includes a technology that is new to BC, a new application of technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the Challenge.
  • Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to positively impact BC (economically, socially, environmentally, etc.).
  • Feasibility: The solution addresses an existing or emerging market demand and is practical, easy to implement and economical for potential users.
  • Scalability: The solution is scalable and demonstrates strong potential for commercialization and adoption.

Who is reviewing the submissions?

Submissions will be reviewed by leaders and experts from the following organizations: Ministry of Agriculture, Innovate BC, Agriculture Venture Accelerator Program (AVAP), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of British Columbia.

Does the Proof-of-Concept need to be developed in BC?

Yes, the Proof-of-Concept must be developed in BC.

Will the Ministry of Agriculture or Innovate BC hold any ownership rights to the intellectual property of my solution?

No, applicants will retain all the intellectual property and ownership rights related to their technologies.

How can I ensure that my solution is protected from those reviewing the new technology?

All content provided in the LOI must be public or non-confidential. Please understand that by signing and submitting an LOI you are acknowledging that the content provided about your company is non-confidential, idea or innovation, and that Innovate BC will share this information with reviewers as part of the evaluation process. All parties involved in reviewing the Challenge submissions sign a Confidentiality Agreement that prevents them from disclosing any private information or using information shared in the selection process as a means for personal gain or the gain of any other person.

Will I need to publicly share my solution at Demo Day? What if I am currently applying for a patent or IP protection, and I don’t want to publicize?

Participation in Demo Day is mandatory for all Challenge winners. However, every effort will be made to showcase Challenge winners without revealing confidential aspects of their technology.

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