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Minister Vandal announces investment for biomanufacturing in Saskatchewan

Funding of $2.5 million through PrairiesCan will help modernize Canada's biomanufacturing sector and create an agri-food hub

SASKATOON, SK, Oct. 7, 2022 /CNW/ - With a dramatic increase in global food insecurity caused by a number different factors, the Government of Canada is committed more than ever to strengthening Canada's leadership role in food production and innovation. The government is supporting agri-food, biotechnology and biomanufacturing innovations that are needed to help meet increasing demands for safe healthy food.

Minister Vandal announces investment for biomanufacturing in Saskatchewan (CNW Group/Prairies Economic Development Canada)
Minister Vandal announces investment for biomanufacturing in Saskatchewan (CNW Group/Prairies Economic Development Canada)

To support this critical economic sector, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, today announced funding of $2.5 million for the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) to help build Canada's only biomanufacturing facility dedicated to advancing sustainable agriculture and innovative food ingredients.

Saskatchewan is an agricultural powerhouse containing 44% of Canada's arable farmland and home to one of the world's strongest agri-science ecosystems. It is in a unique position to help meet market needs for agri-food and biotechnology products, and to be a leader in feeding Canadians and the world.

This investment, provided through PrairiesCan's Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) program, creates an agri-food hub within an emerging Canadian network of biomanufacturing centres in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and now Saskatchewan that are bringing this technology to health care, materials science, and environment markets. This new infrastructure will help Canadian researchers and processors better compete in agri-food industries, increase the pace of research into sustainable agriculture, attract foreign investment to Canada, and supply training in this growing field of research, while creating high-quality jobs in Saskatchewan.

GIFS plays a critical role in the discovery, development, and delivery of innovative agri-food and biotechnology products that meet market demand efficiently and sustainably. This expansion will combine genomics, machine learning, and automated biology to create proteins, peptides, and metabolites. These building-block technologies can help food last longer, make plants more resistant to disease, reduce allergens, or improve nutrition in food products.

Today's investment helps GIFS produce these technologies quickly, decreasing the time researchers need to test theories, and creating exponential opportunities for innovation in agriculture, agri-food and biomanufacturing. It will also improve Canada's biomanufacturing capacity for other stakeholders in the agriculture and biotechnology sectors as the federal government expands Canada's domestic biomanufacturing sector.

Quote(s)

"Supporting the creation of an agri-food hub in Saskatchewan and building on the already strong research and development being done at GIFS and USask strengthens Canada's position as a global leader in the agri-food industry. Our government knows of the immense potential in Saskatchewan to meet the growing global demand for food products, and whenever we see an opportunity to partner with this sector to help reach its goals, we will be there." 
-       The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of PrairiesCan

"Our government is investing heavily to make our agriculture more resilient to the climate crisis. Through research and innovation projects like those led by GIFS and the University of Saskatchewan, our agricultural producers and agri-food entrepreneurs will have additional tools to ensure food security here and abroad." 
-       The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"This facility at GIFS will become the engineering biology focal point for agriculture in Canada and strengthen USask's profile for delivering advancements in agri-food and biotechnology needed to ensure global food security." 
-     Dr. Baljit Singh, USask Vice-President Research

"Adhering to the "A, B, C's" of biomanufacturing – automation and miniaturization, biology, and computation – this unique technology platform helps reduce the time it takes to trial innovative solutions and get them to market. Once online, the platform will decrease the room for error through automating lab processes, boast a deep understanding of biological structures and processes, and add powerful computing solutions, like artificial intelligence, to rapidly scale up the design and production of more nutritious and sustainable crops and food products."  
-       Dr. Steve Webb, CEO of GIFS

Quick facts

  • Saskatchewan is well positioned to be a leader in agri-food and biotech innovation due to its wealth of agricultural expertise and global reputation as a consistent supplier of high-quality food ingredients.

  • GIFS and USask researchers are at the forefront of food and bioproducts research in Canada, and are recognized internationally for their specialties in food for health, food chemistry, processing, biotechnology, and bio-energy.

  • The Regional Innovation Ecosystem (RIE) program, delivered on the Prairies by PrairiesCan, supports business needs to create, grow and nurture inclusive regional innovation ecosystems.

  • A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the market for agri-food and biotechnology products will grow to $4 trillion over the next 10 to 20 years, and a third of that market is agriculture related.

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SOURCE Prairies Economic Development Canada

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