WINNIPEG– A new Canadian Food Innovators Network is being established to boost collaboration, innovation and commercialization in Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector.
Federal investment of up to $30 million was announced today by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) as part of the automation and digital technologies pillar of its Strategic Innovation Fund, and will be enhanced by additional investment from industry. The project will be delivered by the Canadian Food Innovators – Innovateurs Canadiens en alimentation (CFI-ICA).
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development said “Canada’s food and beverage processing sector employs tens of thousands of middle-class workers across Canada. Our government is proud to support the efforts of the Canadian Food Innovators Network to drive innovation in this important sector, which will help businesses adopt new technologies, bring exciting new products to market, and ensure continued growth and job creation.
“We appreciate the confidence the federal government has shown in Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector,” says CFI Chair Joe Lake, Director of Innovation & Research at McCain Foods Limited. “Agriculture and food has been identified as one of the biggest drivers of growth for the Canadian economy and this funding will help us respond to evolving global demands for innovative food products and technologies.”
Two years ago, CFI-ICA undertook an extensive cross-country consultation with food and beverage manufacturing sector stakeholders about needs and opportunities in the sector. Overwhelmingly, participants in every region identified the need for a national food and beverage manufacturing innovation network that can provide resources, connections to innovation experts and research centres, and support for activities often not covered through existing innovation and commercialization infrastructure and programming.
“This new network is a direct response to that need and one of the tools the sector will need to help Canada meet its global agri-food export goals,” adds Lake. “Our goal is to achieve the best outcomes and greatest impacts for Canadian food and beverage manufacturers to help them flourish and let Canada shine on the global stage.”
The network will connect existing agri-food innovation centres with Canada’s food firms to develop and scale up new products, processes, technologies and digital solutions in the sector. It will also establish a national team of skilled concierge ambassadors to broker innovation projects, encourage collaboration with other sectors, and support collaboration between food businesses of all stages and maturities from small start-ups to publicly traded multi-nationals.
“By fostering technology adoption and innovation in our food and beverage processing sector, our government is helping to ensure the industry continues to punch above its weight and be a source of well-paying jobs across Canada,” says Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification. “The Canadian Food Innovators Network will bring exciting changes to a dynamic industry, meaning more innovative, healthy and sustainable food and beverage products for Canadians.”
The Canadian Food Innovators – Innovateurs Canadiens en alimentation was established in 2013 as an industry-led initiative for Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector to access innovation funding and successfully delivered the country’s first food processing research cluster. More information about CFI-ICA and the new network is available at www.canadianfoodinnovators.ca.