Innovation and technology
A range of programs are offered by government, in collaboration with agencies, research institutions and industry organizations, to support innovation and technology for the agriculture and food sector.
Innovation can be a solution to overcoming obstacles or barriers to the growth and success of agri-food and seafood companies. B.C.’s globally recognized competitive advantages, including its diverse agricultural landscape, variety of commodities, thriving tech sector and strong research community are yielding emerging opportunities for the development, adoption and commercialization of what is commonly referred to as “agritech”. Agritech is the fusion of innovation and technology applied to the agriculture, food processing and seafood sectors and has significant potential to address production issues, arising from a growing population with increasing expectations of sustainability and traceability.
B.C. is home to over 150 agritech companies that provide solutions ranging from drones and robotics to remote sensors and waste technologies. These solutions are advancing new knowledge and modernizing products, practices, and technologies to respond to new opportunities and emerging challenges, related to climate change, food security and increasing pressures on agricultural land.
There are government programs and agencies, research institutions and industry organizations that can help you overcome challenges and advance your idea or business.
Government programs and agencies
BC Food Hub Network
The BC Food Hub Network (Network) aims to foster growth and innovation in the processing sector through improved industry access to facilities, equipment, technology, technical services and business supports. The Network model is being developed in collaboration with industry, communities and post-secondary institutions. It is an innovative approach that is intended to build provincial food and beverage processing while serving the regional and sector diversity of the province.
The BC Food Hub Network will be comprised of a Food and Beverage Innovation Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver and a series of inter-connected regional Food Hubs across the province that will be regionally-tailored, shared food innovation and processing facilities. The Network will bring together services and technology that improve supports to the agriculture, agri-food and seafood industry and advance innovation in the Province’s processing sector.
Innovate BC is a Crown agency that helps to connect innovators both large and small with provincial government funding, tools, resources and support. They are in business to serve and celebrate innovation in B.C., helping industries grow, while ensuring people throughout the province benefit from our thriving tech sector.
The Agritech Innovation Challenge
The Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with Innovate BC, developed the Agritech Innovation Challenge to identify innovative solutions to problems faced by B.C.’s agriculture and food industry. By embracing local, innovative solutions to make B.C.’s agriculture industry more efficient, competitive, and profitable, the Agritech Innovation Challenge will create more opportunities to explore new markets through emerging technologies. Funding for the challenge is provided in part by the Government of British Columbia and through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
- Learn more about how Innovate BC can help your business
- Learn more about the Agritech Innovation Challenge
University of British Columbia (UBC) Food Sciences Group
The UBC Food Science program focuses on the biochemistry, microbiology, safety, processing, engineering, and biotechnology of novel and traditional food systems. Opportunities may be available for research partnerships may be available.
BC Institute of Technology (BCIT)
BCIT's Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG) addresses issues of product quality, process improvement and human health using basic and applied science along with state-of-the-art technology.
BCIT's Applied Research Groups work with business and industry to develop innovative solutions in a wide range of research areas.
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) Food & Agriculture Institute
The Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley works to support and steward agriculture resource both regionally and abroad. The Institute conducts policy research to support the farm sector and support applied research into the crops of tomorrow.
BC-Netherlands Action Plan
The Province of B.C. and the Netherlands signed a two-year action plan, in May 2022, to explore collaborative opportunities in agricultural technology. The actions in this agreement will benefit each jurisdiction’s economies to create stronger, more resilient food systems for future generations.
There are many food processing equipment suppliers throughout the province. Consider networking with industry leaders and associations to help determine a match. Trade shows and industry led seminars and workshops are often a good place to start.