Unique event led by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) brings together academics and industry to tackle latest challenges in Ag-tech

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 October 31st, 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 Innovation Enterprise hosted the AIMday™ AgTech event at Innovation Place—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 Hon. Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan, one of the event’s main sponsors. “This event allowed for not just meaningful dialogue between agriculture industry representatives and researchers, but also cultivated new partnerships and collaborations.”


Researchers from the U of S, University of Regina, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic met with representatives of 15 organizations in various sectors (including Mosaic Potash, Sasktel, Novozymes BioAg, Draganfly Innovations, Corteva Agriscience) to discuss innovative solutions to industry issues.

Questions submitted by companies were the basis for company-led 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 receive initial funding of $1,000 each, to be able to expand the boundaries of knowledge and 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 U of S 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.

About AIMday™
AIMday was originally initiated and successfully developed by Uppsala University in Sweden. The U of S, 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  AIMdayTM events at other Canadian institutions.

Since its inception, the successful AIMdayTM concept 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 U of S 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



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