March 11, 2021
Agritech is the art and science of producing more with less. Its goal: to yield more nutritious, affordable and abundant food with less space, water, soil, energy, fertilizer, chemicals and waste. Here in B.C., developments using vertical growing, drones, sensor technology, robotics, genomics, health and therapeutics and environmental controls are transforming the agriculture and seafood sectors.
The B.C. agritech sector is growing, with over 150 agritech companies producing world-class innovations that offer solutions domestically and internationally. British Columbia is also home to some of the world’s leading clean technology applications, generating $2 billion in domestic revenue and exports of $1.2 billion annually. British Columbia’s agritech cluster is promoting new opportunities for the sector to thrive and build food security while meeting our obligations under CleanBC – B.C.’s plan for a sustainable future. Read more about B.C.’s early success in Agritech.
Fishing and farming have always been part of British Columbia’s identity, social fabric, and economy. With over 200 land-based products and 100 fish, shellfish, and marine plant products, B.C. is the most diverse agricultural province in Canada, supporting livelihoods and ensuring food security. In 2019, B.C.’s agriculture, seafood and food and beverage processing sectors generated $15.5 billion in revenues and exported $4.7 billion to 152 markets.
Climate change and COVID-19 have disrupted the highly globalized food production and supply chains and created food security tension. At the same time, they have accelerated agritech innovation and created opportunities for new partnerships. Technology is changing the very nature of agrifood itself. Production practices, consumer demands, climate conditions, and the needs of a growing population are all evolving. Countries worldwide are looking for technology to help them grow more food and the right type of food to meet their needs. They want technology that supports labour productivity and efficiently produces more food with fewer resources, less water, less land, and less waste.
The Dutch have long been the global leader in the agricultural technology sector and are recognized for their high-quality agricultural products. Even with a land area similar to Vancouver Island and 240 times smaller than Canada, the Netherlands manages to be the world’s second-largest agricultural exporter. In 2019, the Netherlands exported 94.5 billion euros ($143.6 billion CDN) thanks to their strategic port locations, expanding agricultural industry, and leading innovation.
Their production increases have also been matched by increases in sustainability, including lower use of energy and raw materials and impact on the environment. Strong cooperation between industry, universities, and government, the Triple Helix, drives Dutch innovation. As a renowned leader in agriculture and food, the Netherlands has a vital role in facilitating and accelerating the global transition towards a sustainable agricultural system that ensures food security and generates economic opportunity.
Partnerships between B.C. and the Netherlands are a natural next step. Both have long understood the impact and importance of sound environmental, social, and governance factors and highly value collaboration, inclusion, and innovation.
On March 24, 2021, British Columbia and the Netherlands will come together over their shared priorities for economic recovery, to improve agricultural processes and feed the world’s growing population, and their desire to tackle climate change.
A Future of Agritech event will be hosted by Trade and Invest BC, in partnership with the Consulate General of the Netherlands and the Canadian Embassy in The Hague. This virtual event will support their commitment to work together and seize the unique opportunities that arise through the evolution of agritech, by bringing together agritech companies, academia, and governments from B.C. and the Netherlands. There will be opportunities to showcase agritech firms and stakeholders, develop innovation partnerships, attract investment, and facilitate trade deals. The Netherlands is already one of Canada’s largest investors, and hundreds of Canadian companies are active in the Netherlands. Details of the event are below.
Attendees will hear from business experts, researchers, and government representatives from across the sector. The plenary will include remarks from the Honourable Ravi Kahlon, B.C. Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation; and Henk Snoeken, Consul General of the Netherlands. Mike Manion, Executive in Residence, Agri-Food Venture Accelerator Program, will present the keynote address. There will also be three-panel discussions on robotics, genomics, and environmental controls, followed by virtual B2B networking opportunities.
The Future of Agritech event leverages opportunities generated by the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the recent Letter of Intent between B.C. and the Netherlands. It also builds on past relationship-building efforts, including visits to the Netherlands by the B.C. Premier in June 2019; the B.C. Innovation Commissioner in September 2019; the Food Security Task Force in October 2019; a visit from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture to B.C. in November 2019; and the subsequent Letter of Intent. While the event focuses on the Netherlands, companies and institutions elsewhere in Europe have also been invited.
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