Canadian government invests in digital food innovation hub to boost its agriculture and foodtech sector

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AUTHOR: Molly Long
Rideau Canal in Ottawa

The government of Canada has announced it will invest in the digital food hub developed by the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) as it seeks to create a “strong, stable and more sustainable” food system with the country.

An investment of up to CAD $1.9 million (£1.18 million) was promised by Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau.

It is hoped the hub will enhance connectivity and collaboration within Canada’s growing foodtech ecosystem.

The funding comes from the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program, a CAD $50.3 million (£31.4 million) five-year investment plan from Bibeau’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) department which aims to boost the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture.  

One of the key elements of the new hub will be its role in matching entrepreneurs with those that have the technical expertise to realise different food system-related ideas.

This is in keeping with the wider aims of the CFIN, which was established in 2021 to catalyse innovation and stimulate connections within Canada’s food sector.

An impressive body of knowledge is accumulating across the agriculture and agri-food value chain,” said Bibeau. “This investment in the Canadian Food Innovation Network makes it possible to establish links to easily share these resources so that each stakeholder benefits and becomes more efficient.”

According to the government, the new digital hub will be available “around the clock” – and through it, businesses will also be able to access one-to-one mentorship, as well as research and innovation resources.

In keeping with its collaborative aims, the hub will also be a place where businesses can access knowledge sharing, best practice guides and business opportunities.

By investing a large sum in the CFIN, the Canadian government hopes to “break down barriers” within the country’s food and agriculture sectors and make them more competitive on a global scale.

Joseph Lake, CEO of the Canadian Food Innovation Network, said: “The funding from AAFC is allowing us to solve one of the biggest challenges facing the Canadian food sector – the ability to find and connect with the right partners.

“This investment will catalyse innovation, facilitate collaboration, enable critical partnerships, and establish Canada as a dynamic food innovation community.”

In recent years, Canada has been focussed on developing its food sector to a state of global competitiveness. In 2021, the Governments of Canada and Ontario invested CAD $2.5M into agri-food entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year, the government invested CAD $2M into the Canadian Northern Food Innovation Challenge, where nine chosen food businesses have the potential to boost food security for those living in the country’s Arctic and Northern Territories.

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