Waterloo-Based Photonics Company Building on Its Industry-Leading Technology

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, June 4, 2024 – The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) today unveiled the final story of an eight-part series highlighting results of the agtech research & innovation projects it has funded through its 2022 Open Competition and its Beef & Pork Primary Processing Automation & Robotics Program.

CAAIN’s mandate from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is to fund technological responses to the most significant opportunities and challenges facing the nation’s agri-food producers and primary processors. That means supporting promising efforts with the potential to provide economic or environmental value. The featured stories demonstrate that CAAIN is doing just that, as does investing in 35 projects with a combined total value of approximately $100M.

“When we think of technology used to assess characteristics of meat in a primary processing facility,” explained Darrell Petras, CAAIN’s CEO, “We typically imagine an activity involving knives and other destructive tools. P&P Optica, a thirty-year-old spectroscopy and photonics company with offices in Waterloo, Ontario, uses light to read the chemical composition of carcases. It’s a non-destructive process and one that is far more accurate than existing methods.”

Using Automation, Data, and Insights to Improve Meat Quality and Safety is a $9,514,562 project that will receive $2,973,651 in funding from CAAIN and ISED. “This project represents one of the largest investments we have made in any one initiative, but we never considered not supporting P&P Optica’s work. This technology allows processors to generate precise data on carcass composition and integrate the information with farm details such as grazing habits, weather, and geography. The eventual outcome will be the creation of a predictive algorithm that will make our food system safer and more profitable. What’s more, it will do so in a manner that reduces waste, while leveraging AI to develop predictive modeling that will enhance farmer productivity. This is the definition of innovation, and we are proud to lend a helping hand.”

For more information, read the attached story or check it out online.


“Leveraging artificial intelligence to analyze data across all areas of agriculture production is a remarkable way to better prepare and adapt to challenges in the industry and improve overall quality for Canadians. Combining automation and artificial intelligence provides a bird’s eye view of products without needing manual intervention. Our government’s investment in the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network ensures the growth of technological innovation and productivity across the country.” 

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Being on the cutting-edge of automation is vitally important to keeping our agri-food industry competitive. Advancements through artificial intelligence and this real-time assessment technology will help meat processors enhance their operations and increase the safety, quality, and profitability of the sector.”

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“This project is a tremendous example of why CAAIN exists. Agriculture and food processing is a sector that can benefit from more investment in technology and innovations to reduce costs while increasing production, food safety and high-quality Canadian products. With our support, this Canadian technology and company can scale up to further support producers and the processing sector.”

Laura Kilcrease, Chair, CAAIN Board of Directors



The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) is a not-for-profit company launched in July 2019 with funding of $49.5‑million from the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund, and assistance from Alberta Innovates in the form of significant in-kind contributions. CAAIN drives collaborative agri-food technology research and innovation from coast to coast.

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Project Funding Inquiries
Darrell Petras, P.Ag.
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
Media Inquiries
Eric Morin, CMP
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
780.405.3742 | eric.morin@caain.ca