18 Feb Netherlands and Western-Canada: Agritech Collaborations and Events
The collaboration between the Netherlands and British Columbia (BC) in the agritech sector has been consistent over the last few decades and continues to grow. Many Dutch immigrants immigrated to BC in the 1950s and played an important role in the development of both the agriculture and horticultural sector in the region. Their influence is still being reflected today in the ownership structure of the horticultural sector, as well as in the technology that is being used in some of the province’s state of the art facilities. The rise of established tech companies, the development of government policies to promote technology and innovation, and BC’s competitive advantages with a strategic geographical location provide a thriving environment for advancements in smart agriculture.
The BC agritech sector shows strong growth potential, with a forecasted compound annual growth rate of 8% annually in BC and 12% globally. By 2025, BC’s agritech sector is expected to generate an estimated $600 million in revenue and directly support ~2,300 jobs (MNP, 2020).
In November 2019, a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands and the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology of British Columbia. Mutually challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, the government of BC and the Netherlands joined efforts to actively support collaborative opportunities in innovation in agriculture and to collectively find solutions to these global challenges.
“The Netherlands is well known for its agricultural exports and leadership in using technology to increase production and is admired and followed worldwide. Dutch companies, research institutions, and government bodies are already cooperating on agritech and innovation in projects around the world, including right here in B.C. We look forward to strengthening our partnership to help us reach our goals of using agritech to continue to build innovative and sustainable food systems that help increase our food security and food economy.” – Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Government of British Columbia
· Virtual Agritech Mission from Canada to the Benelux – 21-25 February
Led by Global Affairs Canada, 10 Canadian Agritech firms (4 from BC) are participating in a virtual mission where they will be introduced to potential partners in the Benelux. 40 B2B matchmaking sessions will be set up.
· BC Ag Innovation Forum – 31 March - 2 April
The yearly BC Ag Innovation Day, as part of the Pacific Agriculture Show, will take place in Abbotsford and will showcase the latest technology and innovation happening in BC. There will be two virtual
panel discussions about the “Impacts of Covid-19” and “Innovations and Robotics” that are changing the face of on-farm labor.
· Netherlands/Western-Canada: Virtual Dragon’s Den Pitch Event – 5 April
As a side event of the BC Ag Innovation Day, CG Vancouver and StartLife (agrifoodtech accelerator in Wageningen), are organizing a pitch event for Dutch startups and scale-ups looking to expand to Western-Canada. Opportunities for companies in the robotics, automation and plant-based proteins sector are the main focus.
· Women in Agriculture in Edmonton – April (TBC)
An in-person table discussion, where we highlight and share women’s stories, achievements and challenges in the agriculture sector. We talk about the role of women in agriculture with (female) leaders and entrepreneurs from both Western-Canada and the Netherlands.
· In-person Growing by Plant Empowerment Workshop – 16-20 May
Plant Empowerment is an innovative cultivation method that aims to optimize the crop’s three balances: energy, water, and assimilates. As a follow-up to an interactive workshop organized in December ’21, organized by the Netherlands Diplomatic Mission Network, an in-person workshop will be set up by Plant Empowerment in Vancouver (BC) and Leamington (ON)
· Mission from Canadian Agritech companies to GreenTech Amsterdam – 14-16 June
A group of advanced Canadian Agritech companies will visit GreenTech Amsterdam, led the Canadian Embassy in The Hague with support from the provinces of BC and Quebec. Oost NL and Innovation Quarter will play a role in the delivery of a tour for the Canadian companies, as part of the program around the show.
"An ongoing collaboration between the Netherlands and Canada is paramount for continued advancements in smart agriculture. A partnership rooted in knowledge sharing and innovative solutions has shown great promise, and will continue to be a key force behind the movement toward more sustainable agriculture.” – Marianne Vaes, Netherlands Agricultural Counselor to the USA and Canada
Recent examples of BC-NL Collaboration in Agriculture
Ecoation Innovation Solutions Inc., a Canadian grower-centric platform that uses both human knowledge and machine accuracy to assist growers, recently announced a collaboration with Dutch AI-tech company Blue Radix, winner of the Greenhouse Technology Award at the 2021 Canadian Greenhouse Conference. Together they established a partnership developing the world’s first autonomous Find & Fix solution, which further automates the decision-making process regarding crop quality and climate control.
Below, there are several recent examples of successful BC-NL collaborations on innovative solutions to make sustainable agriculture possible. They represent a mutual interest in autonomous growing, improved crop quality and a reduced impact on the environment.
1. Klaassen Farms (BC) – FineField (NL)
Klaassen Farms, a large family-owned blueberry farm (Chiliwack, BC), recently added an automatic blueberry harvester to their operations, developed by Dutch company FineField. This solar operated harvester called “Harvy 500" is fully automated and is capable to replace the work of 50-60 hand pickers, while maintaining a high quality berry, and decreasing ground loss.
2. Qualitree (BC) – Aris Vision Systems (NL)
Aris Vision Systems, a Dutch specialist in machine robotic camera systems for controlling and handling of agrifood products, has recently partnered up with its launching customer and wholesale propagation expert Qualitree (Chilliwack, BC). The Qualitree team loves to harness Dutch technology partnerships to exceed the expectations of their customer partners, and to further their goal of becoming the most efficient nursery in North America through a process of continuous improvement.
3. TechBrew (BC) – Highline Mushrooms (BC) – Banken Champignons (NL)
Banken Champignons, one of the leading international companies producing and trading fresh and specialty mushrooms, and Highline Mushrooms (Langley, BC) invested in a pilot project to adopt TechBrew’s advanced technology to automate the mushroom picking process. The project received an additional grant via the BC Agritech Grant Program, a program from the provincial government of BC to expand and develop technologies to help increase sustainable and regenerative food production.
You can find more examples of collaborations in agriculture between companies in BC and the Netherlands here.
By: Ima Nahumury, Diederik Beutener, Paul Kleijne
If you would like to get involved in our activities and/or if you are looking to connect with Canada, BC or the Netherlands, please contact:
· Consulate General of the Netherlands in Vancouver, Trade Officer, Ima Nahumury ([email protected])
· Global Affairs Canada, Canadian Embassy in the Netherlands, Trade Commissioner Agrifoodtech, Diederik Beutener ([email protected])
· BC Ministry of Jobs Economic Recovery and Innovation, Trade and Investment Representative in the Netherlands, Paul Kleijne ([email protected])