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N.S. backs agribusiness incubator centre

A new centre aimed at developing businesses in Atlantic Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sectors has picked up phased-in funding from the Nova Scotia and federal governments.

The planned Atlantic Centre for Agricultural Innovation will get $500,000 from the province and $2 million from Ottawa toward the first two phases of its 20,000-square-foot facility.

The province on Sunday also pledged $4.5 million for the third phase of the project, being developed at AgriTech Park at Bible Hill, near Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) at Truro.

“Investment in this facility ties in well with the development of our government’s 10-year strategy for agriculture by providing a state-of-the-art research facility that will connect the work of Nova Scotia’s agri-based researchers, producers, and processors,” provincial Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said in a release Sunday.

“This multi-year funding will help develop the centre so that it is able to attract businesses that carry out scientific, innovation and extension services.”

The federal funds, flowing through the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency, are meant to support work on the site, foundation and building shell. The third phase is expected to be the completion of the building’s interior, including labs, cold storage and space for future tenants.

“New model”

The new centre is expected to bring “inventors and innovators” together to work with business development professionals, the province said.

Describing the new centre as “a new business model that is unique to North America,” NSAC co-president Leslie MacLaren said it will also help “accelerate the commercialization process and attract near-market product opportunities.”

The new centre is expected to play a “critical role in addressing the commercialization gap between agricultural research and development for startup and established agri-based businesses,” the governments said.

Businesses using the centre will get access to incubation support from “core” staff, along with expertise from the Atlantic BioVenture Centre, BioEnterprise Centre and InNovacorp, the province said.

It’s expected that participating companies could also get business development support from the Colchester Regional Development Authority and access to scientific resources at NSAC and sister schools, the province said.

It’s also expected that NSAC will use the new centre to “incubate, accelerate and attract businesses” to the Truro/Colchester region.

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