The federal government is investing $30 million into the Canadian Food Innovators Network (CFIN), an initiative aimed to boost product development, process innovation and technology adoption in Canada’s food and beverage processing sector.
One of the project’s streams will focus on collaborative projects in automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain development, and commercialization.
The government is hoping the network will help accelerate product development, innovation, and technology adoption in Canada’s food and beverage processing sector by funding projects under three streams. The first stream will be dedicated to finding solutions to food process challenges, the second will focus on collaborative projects in automation, packaging, artificial intelligence, blockchain development and commercialization, and the third will establish centres focused on automating and testing digital technologies.
“The Canadian Food Innovators Network will strengthen the connectivity across existing research centres, firms, and people to build partnerships throughout the food and beverage manufacturing sector,” said Joseph Lake, chair of Canadian Food Innovators. “This will advance innovation with practical, results-oriented solutions, and let Canada grow its food economy by exporting high-value food products and related technologies to global customers.”
CFIN was one of the winning projects selected for funding after a competition under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which was announced in December. Canadian Food Innovators (CFI), an initiative for Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector to access innovation funding, submitted a proposal last year for a dedicated network for automation and digital technologies in the agriculture and agri-food sector. The other winner, the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network, also received $49.5 million in funding from SIF.
One of the key projects being undertaken by CFIN will be the creation of a digital hub, what the government said would be a “first step toward a Canadian Agri-Food Innovation Centre.” The hub for agri-food innovation will be created to help create new food products and advance technology adoption in the sector.
Another part of the CFIN initiative will involve connecting industry stakeholders through digital resources and collaborative activities such as advanced technology platforms, industry advisors, and events focused on sector growth and market access. As an example, the government said CFIN could help in the development and adoption of new smart food-packaging materials with sensor technology to improve food safety, monitor freshness, and extend product shelf life.
The network’s effort to connect players in the industry will involve research and development centres, small to medium-sized businesses, multinational enterprises, academia, and international innovation centres. The digital hub, along with physical network events will facilitate this collaboration, the government said. CFIN is expected to begin with 18 partners across 10 provinces. So far, the participating members of CFIN include:
- BC Food Processors Association
- Alberta Food Processors Association
- Food and Beverage Manitoba
- Food and Beverage Ontario
- Conseil de la Transformation Alimentaire Du Québec
- Food and Beverage Atlantic
- FOODTECH Canada
- Saskatchewan Food Development Centre
- Manitoba Food Development Centre
- NSF International
- Cintech agroalimentaire
- Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development
Image courtesy Unsplash
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