The province launched the latest edition of the Agritech Innovation Challenge on April 17, after a soft launch at the BC Tech Summit in Vancouver a month earlier.
Overseen by the BC Innovation Council with $150,0000 in funding from the BC Ministry of Agriculture, the challenge targets three areas for innovation: food processing, food traceability, and precision agriculture.
A roundtable that kicked off the challenge attracted 20 companies, including five in food processing, eight in traceability and seven in precision agriculture. Applicants must submit letters of interest by May 14, and shortlisted parties will be asked to submit full proposals by June 24. Winners in each of the three areas will be announced in early July, with project demonstrations scheduled for the Pacific Agriculture Show in 2020.
The first Agritech Innovation Challenge debuted at the BC Agrifood and Seafood Conference in Kelowna in November 2016, backed by $240,000 in government funding. The first challenge focused on berry competitiveness, sustainable pest management, greenhouse efficiencies and nutrient recovery strategies with a view towards value-added processing. The winners, announced in March 2017, included software designed by Fraser Valley-based gUAVas that turned drones into berry and fruit guards; a diagnostic tool for greenhouses designed by Ecoation Innovation Solutions of North Vancouver; technology to enhance anaerobic digestion from Vancouver’s Boost Environmental Systems; and compostable yarn developed by Gordon Shank Consulting of Burnaby for use in greenhouses.