Feds, province back Man. ag innovation fund

New and previously-developed innovation programming for Manitoba’s ag sector will be rolled into a new fund distributing $39 million over five years.

Southeastern Manitoba MP Vic Toews and provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk announced the new Innovation Fund on Tuesday at Carman, Man.

The Innovation Fund is meant to support “projects that create and develop new methods, products and technology that will improve Manitoba’s competitive edge in the agriculture sector.”

Innovation funding will be channeled to projects submitted through two funding avenues, the governments said. The Industry Innovation Suite will support investment in projects brought forward by participants in the sector, and the Strategic Innovation Suite will support investment in “strategically important initiatives” brokered by the province among government and industry stakeholders.

Programs covered by the Industry Innovation Suite include Manitoba’s existing Agri-food Research and Development Initiative (ARDI), Farm Diversification and Innovation Centres, the Manitoba Agri-Innovation Suite program and the new Agri-Extension Innovation program.

Programs covered by the Strategic Innovation Suite, meanwhile, will include the Advancing Agri-Innovation program and the Strategic Innovation Grants to the University of Manitoba and the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

“Business alliances”

Among the programs funded, the new Advancing Agri-Innovation Program is meant to help Manitobans and Canadians “form business alliances between producers, processors, researchers and consumers so they can work together to capture opportunities.”

Such partnerships are expected to help identify changing demands in the volume and variety of foods produced; increase the research and use of specific foods to maintain health and battle disease; create new forms of energy from waste products and sustainable resources; and invent more sustainable green products.

Through the Farm Diversification and Innovation Centres, the governments said, “inventors and innovators can move more new ideas and technologies from test conditions in laboratories to scientific evaluation under field conditions.”

Producer and industry partners operate centres at Melita, Roblin and Arborg while the federal and provincial governments maintain centres at Portage la Prairie, Carberry and Winkler.

The Agri-Extension Innovation program works with MAFRI’s extension professionals helping farmers evaluate new technology or management practices by using test processes or technology in real farm or ranch conditions.

The Manitoba Agri-Innovation Suite (MAIS) program helps producers develop products from concept to market for the agri-food industry.

The province will put up $19.77 million for the Innovation Fund over five years, while the federal government will provide $19.48 million.

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