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News Release: CAAIN Launches National Smart Farm Program

June 2, 2022

Continuous Intake Option Available for Agricultural Innovators

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, June 2, 2022 – The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) today launched a $5M call for funding focused exclusively on encouraging the expansion of a national network of smart farms.

“We have invested significant resources to planning this initiative because it’s a necessary step in the nationwide adoption of emerging agricultural technologies,” said CAAIN CEO, Kerry Wright. “We currently support a smart farm project that has shown tremendous promise in three distinct areas. First, it validates the use of advanced agricultural technology. Second, it demonstrates the functionality of that equipment to farmers, who can then evaluate the potential return on investment for themselves in a real-world farm setting. Third, it is connected to three post-secondary institutions. They, as a result, now have the tools needed to train the next generation of agriculture industry professionals. The success of this first smart farm project prompted us to develop the continuous intake opportunity we are unveiling today.”

CAAIN’s mandate from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is to focus its funding on three pillars of technological advancements essential to the agri-food sector. The first two—robotics & automation and data-driven decision-making—can be validated and demonstrated on smart farms, which comprise the third pillar. CAAIN has structured the program announced today to encourage more entrepreneurs to take up this challenge.

“This is the fifth funding call we have launched in the past two years, and the others have been well received,” explained Ms. Wright. “That said, smart farm projects are complex, and it occurred to us that their complexity, coupled with our tight submission timelines and partnership requirements, might challenge the small and medium businesses we are mandated to encourage. That’s why this smart farm program is what’s referred to as ‘continuous intake,’ which means we’re inviting applicants to submit proposals according to their schedules, rather than ours. We will continue to accept submissions until we have committed the entire $5 million set aside for this round of funding.”

When added to the approximately $26M CAAIN will provide to the 24 successful applicants of its first three competitions, as well as the $5M expected to be used to support its beef and pork primary processing program, this smart farm competition pushes CAAIN’S funding commitments to roughly $36M. Details are available online at caain.ca.

Quotes

Our government is committed to supporting and investing in emerging agricultural technologies, and CAAIN is leading the charge in the agri-tech sector. This innovative competition will benefit the Canadian economy today while helping to grow the next generation of agriculture industry professionals.” 

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

“Across Canada, farmers are developing and commercialising new technologies to help the agriculture industry increase productivity and competitiveness while building resiliency. The Government of Canada will continue to support strategic investments like this one to assist farmers in adopting cutting edge technologies that will create better opportunities for them and grow our economy.”

Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Supporting the development of a Canada-wide network of smart farms is one of CAAIN’s three innovation pillars, and the rationale for this focus is simple. Smart farms are the best way to ground-proof new agricultural technology, and therefore will play a vital role in overcoming barriers to adoption of the advances needed to feed a growing global population.”

Laura Kilcrease, Chair, CAAIN Board of Directors

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About CAAIN

The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network 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 champions collaborative AgTech innovation to feed the future.

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Project Funding Inquiries
Kerry Wright
CEO
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
kerry.wright@caain.ca
Media Inquiries
Eric Morin, CMP
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network
780.405.3742 | eric.morin@caain.ca

Link to a recording of the program launch featuring Francis Drouin, Parliamentary Secretry to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: https://youtu.be/Lqksr9AgExk