Identifying Canada’s path to becoming a global agri-food innovation superpower

National roundtable series launched in Calgary; presentation of findings in Ottawa this fall

Posted: May 23, 2024

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According to Bloomberg, Canada ranks ninth in the world in terms of spending on agricultural research, but only 21st when it comes to turning that research into practical and marketable innovations. 

“We believe the key to closing the agri-food innovation gap lies in understanding the challenges that exist regionally, provincially and in the territories so that we can develop a national strategy to address these barriers while also expanding successful regional programs and initiatives,” says Bioenterprise Canada CEO Dave Smardon. “Canada is large and diverse country with a very multi-faceted agri-food industry, and it’s critical that we find ways to better work together to create more efficient and collaborative resources and support programs that will help our sector, our economy and our country thrive.”

Bioenterprise, Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, is leading the drive to create a better, more comprehensive national agri-food innovation environment with the support of partners Bennett Jones LLP, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Farm Credit Canada.

The project will: 

  • Analyze and connect the complex web of interacting organizations and their respective services in each region’s agri-food sector and identify ecosystem gaps. 
  • Provide recommendations to ensure Canada’s considerable research strengths are effectively translated into practical, marketable solutions and enhance Canada’s competitiveness in the global agri-food sector.
  • Foster collaboration across the existing national network of commercialization enablers by promoting the open sharing of knowledge, resources, and best practices.
  • Convene industry leaders to a process for identifying and addressing specific barriers to innovation to ensure subsequent policies and strategies are well-informed and impactful.

“Canada’s potential to become a global agri-food superpower is rooted in its abundance of natural resources, leading research institutions, and a strong focus on sustainable agricultural practices,” says Lorelei Graham, Partner and Head of the Agribusiness Industry Team at Bennett Jones. “We are proud to support this initiative that will improve the successful commercialization of agri-food innovations and keep those companies in Canada. This will help drive economic growth, reduce our carbon footprint, and contribute to food security.”

Following events with stakeholders in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the project will culminate with an agri-food innovation summit in Ottawa this fall. 

Expected project outcomes include an innovation ecosystem roadmap of each region’s key resources and stakeholders; a comprehensive insights report summarizing challenges and opportunities identified during the roundtables; policy recommendations to improve the commercialization process and reduce regulatory barriers; a strategic action plan and framework for better collaboration between industry, government, academia and other stakeholders; and regional level best practices and case studies that could be applied nationally. 

Funding for this project in part has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, along with Bennett Jones LLP, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and Farm Credit Canada. 

About Bioenterprise Canada

Bioenterprise is Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, a national agri-technology focused commercialization accelerator. Bioenterprise uses its more than 20 years of industry experience and a global network of experts, mentors, funders, researchers, and industry partners to help small and medium-sized agri-food businesses connect, innovate and grow. 

About Bennett Jones
Bennett Jones LLP is an internationally recognized Canadian law firm trusted by clients in Canada and around the world to solve their most complex legal matters. With 500 lawyers and business advisors in Canadian and international offices, the firm works alongside some of the largest and most successful corporations in Canada. Its team is known for their ability to deliver an outstanding client experience, a deep knowledge of their clients’ businesses and industries, and a history of building long-lasting client relationships.

About Canadian Federation of Agriculture

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture was formed in 1935 as a unified voice to speak on behalf of Canadian farmers. Their work continues today as a farmer-funded, national umbrella organization comprising of provincial general farm organizations and national and interprovincial commodity groups. CFA represents producers of all commodities, who operate farms of all sizes, and through its members, CFA represents approximately 190,000 Canadian farm families from coast to coast.

About FCC

FCC is proud to be 100% invested in Canadian agriculture and food. Our employees are committed to the long-standing success of those who produce and process Canadian food. FCC provides flexible financing and capital solutions, while creating value through data, knowledge, relationships and expertise. FCC offers a complement of financial and non-financial products and services designed to support the complex and evolving needs of the industry. As a commercial Crown corporation, FCC is a stable partner that reinvests profits back into the industry and communities it serves.


For more information: 

Dave Smardon, Bioenterprise Canada or (519) 821-2960

Lorelei Graham, Bennett Jones or (416) 777-6547