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 can be scaled to affect the lives of more people. 
  • Feasibility: Solution implementation is feasible, and the team has a plan for financial sustainability. 

 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. Food Traceability TechnologiesTraceability 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) 

Food 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 

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: Public announcement of Challenge winners 
  • 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.

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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

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