Agrifood startups have found their place to start

A global Silicon Valley agriculture investment platform aims to support Canada’s agribusiness industry by partnering with a Calgary center that helps start-ups.

SVG Venture’s Thrive Business Accelerator program will be a resident partner in Platform Calgary’s new Platform Innovation Center, where it is launching the Thrive Agrifood Innovation Digital Hub for Canada.

“Canadian innovation will continue to play a huge role in the future of global agriculture,” John Cassidy, CEO of Thrive Canada, said in a statement. “Together, we will foster the fast-growing agri-food innovation community and in doing so, accelerate the technologies and jobs of the future that will fuel our economy right here in the heart of Calgary.

The partnership will leverage Alberta’s strengths as a hotbed of entrepreneurial and technological innovation to help agri-food startups grow their businesses and find investors, said Jen Lussier, director of growth at Platform Calgary.

“I think there’s incredible potential…historically, Alberta obviously has been heavily, heavily focused on energy investments, and so I think there’s now a huge opportunity to shine a spotlight on investments. agriculture and agricultural technology investments.”

Invest Alberta, a crown corporation that helps attract global investment to the province, said agriculture is the backbone of Alberta’s economy. The industry employed 69,800 people and contributed $9.68 billion to gross domestic product in 2020, he said.

“Alberta has experienced rapid growth in its value-added food processing industry. The subsector…was the largest manufacturing sector in Alberta, with $15.5 billion in food manufacturing sales in 2020.”

Thrive describes itself as a global agribusiness investment and innovation platform that brings together everyone from investors to universities, as well as top agriculture, food and technology companies such as Bayer, Kubota and Land O’Lakes.

“With a community of more than 5,000 startups from 100 countries, the Thrive platform invests, accelerates, and creates unparalleled access for entrepreneurs globally to solve the biggest challenges facing the food and agriculture industries. “

The Thrive Agrifood Innovation Digital Hub will likely support young Canadian start-ups across a wide range of agricultural ventures, Lussier said. They could involve everything from animal health and food safety to automation and predictive maintenance involving artificial intelligence, she added.

The federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership provided $200,000 to support a 2020 collaboration between Thrive and Olds College in Alberta. It allows startups to test their technologies at the college’s Smart Farm, which is a grain and livestock operation that involves everything from robotics to artificial intelligence.

Lussier said the collaboration between Thrive and Platform Calgary will instead help startups with things like their business or revenue models by providing a central gathering place for different types of programming, she said.

As someone who helped found a company in 2015, Lussier said entrepreneurs have always had to seek help from various sources that “hid under a whole pile of rocks…you’re kind of on your way.” the roller coaster of wins and losses. in your business, and just being able to quickly find the support you need is super, super helpful.”

Nearly 25% of Platform Calgary’s clients in 2020 “were in agriculture and food innovation, and that number will only grow with dedicated support and programming,” President Terry Rock said in the release.

“Every time a technology innovator walks through the door of the Platform Innovation Center, they will be greeted with access to everything they need to succeed. With Thrive Canada, that now includes all the resources and connections they have within of the global agrifood innovation community.”

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