Board of Directors Pleased with Results of Extensive Search

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 11, 2023 – The agriculture and agri-food sector is one of Canada’s largest, generating more than $140B in 2022. Increasing adoption of technology and innovation in this sector is a major focus for the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN), which has appointed a new CEO to lead this effort.

Darrell Petras, an executive with an extensive background in technology and business development, has been appointed as CEO of CAAIN following a significant national recruitment effort. Petras is joining CAAIN following his work as Vice-President, Programs and Business Development, with Edmonton Unlimited, an innovation agency based in Alberta’s capital.

Petras has worked as a founder, business owner, and business coach focused in sectors such as agriculture, energy, both human and animal health, and technology business development. He has spent two decades working with individual owners, start-up companies, and large-scale corporate operations, and has experience realizing economic value built in partnership with post-secondary institutions. He was selected to help CAAIN advance its mandate as an agency dedicated to growing agriculture’s contribution to Canada’s economy. This includes:

  • Supporting research and innovation projects through funding opportunities
  • Creating a nationwide system of commodity-specific Smart Farm Networks to validate emerging technology and encourage its adoption by the agriculture community
  • Building a nationwide network of stakeholders
  • Support educating the agriculture workforce of tomorrow

“Bringing a leader of this calibre to CAAIN builds on the momentum generated by its founding CEO, Cornelia Kreplin, PhD. Darrell’s multi-sector experiences will expand CAAIN’s impact in growing a robust and technologically advanced agricultural sector in Canada. Food security is a priority worldwide and Canada is exceptionally well positioned as an agriculture powerhouse. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Dr. Kreplin for her trailblazing leadership and dedication to the organization.”

Laura Kilcrease
Chair, CAAIN Board of Directors

Agriculture and Agri-Food Facts*:

  • Combined, employed 2.3M Canadians in 2022
  • Generated $143B, approximately seven per cent of Canada’s total GDP
  • More than 189,000 farms exist in Canada
  • Farms cover 62M hectares or 6.2 per cent of Canada’s landmass
  • Exported $92B worth of agriculture and food products in 2022

*Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

“I am excited to be joining such an excellent team. From a personal perspective, this opportunity lines up perfectly with my interests and experience. From an industry perspective, I know CAAIN to be the right organization in the right place at the right time. Never has there been a greater requirement to foster innovation in Canada’s agri-food sector, and we are ideally positioned to take a leadership role in supporting the efforts of our country’s agricultural innovators and entrepreneurs. We have some very exciting projects on the go, with more on the horizon.”

Darrell Petras, P.Ag.
Incoming CAAIN CEO

Petras will assume his responsibilities on August 1. For more information, read the attached bio.



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 by performing three core functions. First, it supports the development of promising solutions to important challenges facing producers and primary food processors. Second, it is building an online, member-based network connecting Canada’s agricultural and technology stakeholders. Third, CAAIN is developing a digital platform to link nationwide, production-specific networks of smart farms, which will collaborate to validate and demonstrate emerging technology in diverse locations across the country.   Twitter   LinkedIn


Media Inquiries
Eric Morin, CMP
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
780.405.3742 |