Unique USask-led event brings together academics and industry in AgTech



From left: Amit Shukla (Chief Program Manager, Innovation Enterprise), Brennan Turner (CEO, FarmLead), Johannes Dyring (Managing Director, Innovation Enterprise). Photo Credit: University of Saskatchewan.

SASKATOON — What is the scope for genomics to improve crops’ frost tolerance? What impacts will Blockchain have on the agricultural industry? What are the most cost-effective and precise methods for determining plant health and diagnosing issues?

These were some of the questions from industry addressed at the AIMday™ AgTech event on Oct. 31, as Saskatchewan academic researchers and industry representatives met to discuss challenges and opportunities in the burgeoning agricultural technologies (AgTech) research space and to develop pathways to new collaborations.

University of Saskatchewan (USask) Innovation Enterprise hosted the AIMday™ AgTech event at Innovation Place, partnering with the University of Regina (U of R) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask Polytech)—the first step in a process that is expected to lead to joint research projects that will address specific industry needs and help transform the global food system through new smart farming technologies.  

“Agriculture is a vital part of the Saskatchewan economy, and AIMday™ AgTech is a great way to bring innovators and industry together to address Ag sector challenges,” said Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan, one of the main sponsors of the event. “This event allowed for not just meaningful dialogue between agriculture industry representatives and researchers, but also cultivated new partnerships and collaborations.”

Researchers from USask, U of R, and Sask Polytech met with representatives of 15 organizations in various sectors (includingMosaic Potash, SaskTel, Novozymes BioAg, Draganfly Innovations, Corteva Agriscience) to discuss innovative solutions to industry issues.

Questions submitted by companies were the basis for discussions with academics from various disciplines. A structured one-hour discussion around each question enabled industry representatives and academics to assess whether they can work together to find a solution to the specific challenge presented by the company. 

Of the 55 proposals submitted by researchers in response to specific industry questions, 17 were selected by the companies to expand the boundaries of knowledge and create economic advantages.  

“This is the fourth and biggest AIMday™ so far, attracting more companies and more researchers than ever before,“ said  U of S Innovation Enterprise Managing Director Johannes Dyring. “In addition to a brilliant concept, the success is the result of a great Innovation Enterprise team effort. I am sure everybody is looking forward to the exciting high-potential opportunities emerging from the AgTech AIMday™.”

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, just announced $30,000 of investment to support USask AIMday™ events throughout 2018 and 2019, starting with this event focusing on AgTech.

AIMday™ also received financial support from the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Connect Grant program which provides targeted financial support to encourage post-secondary researchers to connect with industry and form new partnerships. Some of the research collaborations that emerged from AIMday™ may also be eligible for NSERC Engage program funding, which has supported over 10,000 such academy-industry collaborations since 2009.  

Natural Products Canada, Innovation Saskatchewan, Innovation Place and ISM Canada were also sponsors of the event.

The following research teams were selected by industry organizations to receive initial $1,000 funding each:

Researcher(s)

Department(s)

Institution(s)

Muhammad Asif Manzoor  and Abdul Bais

Engineering and Applied Sciences

University of Regina

Julio Torres Tello and Seokbum Ko

Electrical and Computer Engineering

University of Saskatchewan

Lee Wilson, Peng Zhang and Gordon Huang

Chemistry, Engineering and Applied Sciences

University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina

Reza Haghgoo and Donald Bergstrom

Mechanical Engineering

University of Saskatchewan

Reza Haghgoo and Donald Bergstrom

Mechanical Engineering

University of Saskatchewan

Ralph Deters, Keshav Singh, Steve Shirtliffe, Muhammad Asif Manzoor, Abdul Bais

Computer Science, Plant Sciences and Engineering and Applied Sciences

University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina

Ralph Deters and Terry Peckham

Computer Science, ICT

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Christopher Yost

Biology

Unversity of Regina

Karen Tanino

Plant Sciences

University of Saskatchewan

Barakatou Kone and Peter Phillips

Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

University of Saskatchewan

Lee Wilson

Chemistry

University of Saskatchewan

Christopher Yost

Biology

Unversity of Regina

Xulin Guo

Geography and Planning

University of Saskatchewan

Keshav Singh and Steve Shirtliffe

Plant Sciences

University of Saskatchewan

Abdul Bais

Engineering and Applied Sciences

Unversity of Regina

Eric Micheels

Agricultural and Resource Economics

University of Saskatchewan

Khan Wahid

Electrical and Computer Engineering

University of Saskatchewan

For more information, contact

 
Johannes Dyring
Managing Director
Innovation Enterprise
University of Saskatchewan
306-966-7829

 

About AIMday™

AIMday™ was originally initiated and successfully developed by Uppsala University in Sweden. At Usask, through Innovation Enterprise, has initiated and signed a collaboration agreement with Uppsala University to implement the internationally acclaimed and highly successful concept, and is now approved by Uppsala as the Canadian AIMday™ hub, enabling Innovation Enterprise to help facilitate  AIMdayTMevents at other Canadian institutions. 

Since its inception, the successful AIMdayTMconcept has been used in several areas, including cancer research, diagnostics, materials science, aging, imaging and big data. It has proven to be an effective tool for generating new contacts, new ideas and new approaches to solving problems and driving innovation forward.

About USask Innovation Enterprise
Innovation Enterprise initiates, develops, commercializes and implements innovative, sustainable and knowledge-based solutions generated by the University of Saskatchewan. Find out more: www.research.usask.ca/ie

About Innovation Saskatchewan 
Innovation Saskatchewan is an innovation catalyst serving the needs of individuals, companies and institutions, as well as enhancing the role and benefits of innovation in Saskatchewan through:

  • Developing an environment that encourages and accelerates innovation;
  • Enhancing the ability of the private sector to innovate and implement innovations, leading to the commercialization of new, high value-added products and improved competitiveness; and
  • Fostering coordinated public-sector research, development and technology transfer targeted at economic growth for Saskatchewan.

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