The future of agriculture is focused on creating food for a growing global population with fewer resources, a lower carbon footprint, and less physical labour. What does this future look like? It will be a thriving agritech industry filled with innovation such as mushroom-picking robots and QR codes showing the origins of the steak on a dinner plate.
British Columbia (B.C.) has a world class reputation for quality agriculture and seafood products, and it is a natural fit that agritech is an emerging industry in the province. Farming and fishing have been an integral part of B.C.’s economy, and technology has propelled the industry to produce higher quality and a higher quantity of agriculture goods. There are already over 150 agritech companies in the province, all of whom are leaders in innovation and technology that promote sustainability.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on global supply chains and food production facilities where workers cannot be socially distant. This has spurred the need for the use of technology to optimize the production process. To help scale this sector, the Government of British Columbia created the $7.5 million Agritech Grant Program under the Stronger BC COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan. The program provided up to $500,000 in funding to B.C.-based companies focused on exploring new technologies and increasing domestic food production. One company that was a beneficiary of this grant is TechBrew Robotics. The company is developing a robot that can locate and pick mushrooms that are ready for harvest. It is projected that this artificial intelligence robot arm can lessen the effects of labour shortages while also increasing the yield on mushroom farms.
Bakerview EcoDairy received $230,000 from the Agritech Grant Program to develop a blockchain-encrypted information management system that will provide data on beef products. This data includes where the cattle was born, what it was fed, and the path it took to land in the consumer’s hands. This fulfills the needs of many modern consumers who want to know the origins of their food products, and whether hormones or steroids were used to feed the animals. This traceability heightens B.C.’s reputation for sustainable and high-quality food products. 🙂
The provincial government also launched a new Agritech Concierge Program in March 2021, with the intention of growing the emerging agritech sector. The Concierge helps assess the needs for an agritech business and provide support to grow and scale up the business, as well as identify suitable markets to expand to. The program focuses on high-growth potential companies that have over 10 employees and a prototype product or technology that is scalable.
The agritech sector itself has a huge range of technologies focusing on vertical growing solutions, waste process management, and food manufacturing. British Columbia is poised to be a leader in agritech with numerous companies creating investment opportunities where international companies can see the value in these applications within their own production processes. Learn more about B.C. technology by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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