The province is investing $343 million into the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance over the next five years.
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The Alliance is a collaboration between Ontario, the University of Guelph, and the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), supporting and driving agri-food research and innovation.
“Using our expertise, the University leverages this government investment to protect plant and animal health, guard against new disease and environmental challenges, safeguard Ontario’s food supply and support leading agri-food innovation,” said Dr. Charlotte Yates, University of Guelph president.
Why it Matters:The province’s continued financial support of agri-food research, technology and innovation will increase Ontario’s food production and competitiveness.
The funding renewal will allow the Alliance to build on five years of success on the government’s previous agreement in 2018.
Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) said the province’s previous investment of $335 million resulted in a $1.4 billion increase in the province’s GDP and supported 1300 jobs. In addition, it led to the creation of new Ontario businesses, including Clēan Works, a $7 million grassroots agri-food innovator of a revolutionary waterless process for decontaminating fresh and frozen produce, proteins, dried goods, and shipping containers.
It helped spawn Escarpment Labs, which provide unique, local, and accessible yeast cultures for local and global beer production, and Psigryph Inc., named one of Canada’s most investable clean tech companies by Foresight Canada for their naturally derived nano-delivery technology increasing bioavailability to improve human, animal and environmental health.
“This collaboration (through the Alliance) has been a key driver of important research that has led to significant and important agri-food innovation in Ontario,” said Lorne Hepworth, ARIO chair. “Including projects that come out of ARIO’s network of research centres across Ontario. ARIO’s research infrastructure enables (the Alliance) to be a world leader in agri-tech research and innovation.”
Funding for the Alliance supports fundamental programming to help farmers and the broader agri-food sector build resiliency through advancing the science, research, innovation, and commercialization of new products, building a skilled workforce, maintaining and maximizing a network of state-of-the-art research centres and managing threats to food production and food security.
Dr. Malcolm Campbell, University of Guelph vice-president (research), said on a year-to-year basis, the Alliance addresses industry-set priorities such as high pathogenic avian influenza, African swine fever and new, unimagined, and emerging pathogens.
“We will be at the frontlines of testing for those and finding mechanisms to mitigate the occurrence of those particular diseases in livestock and crops,” said Campbell.
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Thompson said with continued investment from the province, Ontario’s agri-food sector’s future remains bright, positioning it as a world leader in agri-food research and innovation.
“By continuing our long-standing partnership with the University of Guelph, our government is demonstrating its commitment to Ontario’s agri-food research infrastructure,” said Thompson. “Providing knowledge transfer and research-driven results to farmers to boost their competitiveness now and into the future.”