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Strategic Innovation Fund Invests $49.5 Million in Ag Technology

Purpose Built Network  | Smart FarmCanada’s agri-food sector is poised to take a leap forward in the areas of automation and digitization thanks to a transformational investment from the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund. 

On July 22, 2019, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced that the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) was awarded $49.5 million in federal funding, which will be matched by industry and the private sector.  The resulting $100 million+ investment will be a catalyst for industry-led research and development that will help develop and mobilize new technologies and innovations into practice, to benefit Canadian agriculture and food companies and expand the sector's leadership position globally.

Olds College is a founding member of the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN), which was spearheaded by Alberta Innovates and brings together a network of academia and research institutions and more than 60 technology and agri-food companies from across Canada who are focused on creating and integrating automated and digitized technology platforms within the agri-food sector. The network will use the Olds College Smart Farm as a hub to develop, test and demonstrate new technologies. 

“Olds College is excited to be a cornerstone of a national smart farm platform that will provide the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) with living labs that represent the agriculture and agri-food value chain and provide real world context for the development and adoption of agri-tech innovations,” said Stuart Cullum, President of Olds College.

“We hear loud and clear from producers and industry partners that technology, such as automation and data is important, but it must be focused on real problems, and produce real value for adoption to occur,” says Cullum. “This is the driving force behind the development of the Olds College Smart Farm and will be reinforced by investments from the Canadian AgriFood Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN).”

“This is the right investment at the right time for Canada’s agri-food sector,” says Dr. Joy Agnew, Director of Olds College Centre for Innovation. “Since we launched the Smart Farm last year, Olds College has received unprecedented interest from traditional and nontraditional ag companies who see significant value in the ag-tech space,” says Agnew, adding that companies are looking to collaborate with Olds College on applied research projects including the demonstration and validation of new technologies and innovations.

The Olds College Smart Farm is built on a philosophy of collaboration and partnership. The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) is bringing together a national ecosystem of industries, post-secondaries and non-profit organizations that will leverage the Olds College Smart Farm and support the future development of resources as a world-class asset for applied research, interactive teaching, and demonstration.