Investing in agri-food innovation – MPP Jim McDonell


Funding Now Available for New-to-Ontario Automation and Machinery

KINCARDINE — The Ontario government is investing in new partnerships in agri-food innovation, including pilot projects in robotics and artificial intelligence, to help the industry
address pandemic related challenges, ongoing labour shortages, and create new opportunities for growth across the sector.

The Innovator Stream is the targeted second phase of the Agri-tech Innovation Program, a $22 million program launched in April to provide up to 60 per cent funding for eligible costs, to a
maximum of $750,000, to develop larger-scale collaboration projects aimed at enhancing the health and safety of workers and increasing productivity.

“Investing in new technology will have tremendous potential to help our agri-food industry meet many of the current challenges it faces,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs. “I’m calling on agri-food businesses, commodity organizations and technology providers to join this exciting new initiative and help protect the safety of agri-food
workers, while ensuring Ontario’s agri-food sector continues to lead across North American and around the world.”

The Innovator Stream intake focuses on ground-breaking projects where innovation — such as piloting the use of autonomous farm equipment in an operational environment — is new to
Ontario, North America or the agri-sector. Funding eligibility will include targeted, specialized, high-impact projects that pilot or demonstrate cutting-edge technology. Projects will require
collaboration between at least two agri-food businesses, organizations and agri-food technology providers or developers.

“Innovation is the driving force of competitiveness in modern agriculture, and the key to protecting our workforce while ensuring long-term success,” said Minister Thompson.
“To be a highly competitive food and beverage processing industry globally, we must be forward thinking on innovation,” said Chris Conway, CEO, Food and Beverage Ontario. “This
program will make it possible for leaders in technology and business to work together on priority issues such as labour productivity and develop new solutions that will benefit the entire

“The Agri-tech Innovation Program has been, and will be, instrumental to further mobilize the Ontario agricultural innovation and technology supply chain and support the sector in meeting
the demands of today and the future”, said Ian Potter, PhD, President and CEO, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland). “Working collaboratively to implement innovative
business-focused technical solutions and develop best practices is the path forward.”

The Innovators Stream intake will run from August 19 to September 27, 2021.


• Information, program guidelines and application forms are available as of August 19, 2021 for the Innovators cost-shared stream. Eligible applications will be assessed using a
merit-based review process once the intake closes.

• The Innovators stream will provide funding for targeted projects that involve the piloting and/or demonstration of technological innovation that advances automation
through robotics, artificial intelligence, digital and/or other forms of innovative technologies that reduce labour-intensive work practices and processes often
associated with high-risk COVID transmission.

• Projects will help to demonstrate the usefulness and benefits of the technology and help support scale-up and future adoption. They will focus on technology innovations
that are not readily commercially available yet but have clear market potential and are ready to be piloted and demonstrated in operational environments.

• Potential project focus areas could include for example innovation for crop production, for livestock or poultry production or for food preparation, processing and production.

• The intake announced today is the second phase of the Agri-tech Innovation Program announced in April 2021.
– Under the first phase, the Early Adopters stream, cost-share funding is being provided to help farming operations and processor businesses adopt innovative and new technologies that enhance protection of workers against COVID-19, lead to increased business efficiencies and productivity, and help build the sector’s resilience. The intake opened on May 17 and closed on June 21, 2021.

• The Agri-tech Innovation Program complements the province’s Prevention, Control and Outbreak Support Strategy for COVID-19 in Ontario’s Farm Workers, which recommends
35 actions to prevent and control COVID-19 on farms, protect farm worker safety and wellness, and maintain the sustainability and viability of the agri-food sector.

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