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USask signs MOU with Agtech Accelerator to support industry in Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Agtech Accelerator, accentuating the university’s role in the innovation ecosystem and building a pipeline of talent for the agricultural industry.

The Agtech Accelerator is a venture-capital-backed accelerator assisting early-stage start-ups that are seeking solutions to global agricultural problems through innovation and technological advances. It was launched earlier this year.

The accelerator will provide companies with the tools they need to grow, secure capital and create high-quality job opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students right at home in Saskatchewan. Through partnerships with Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions, including USask, the accelerator can collaborate directly with researchers and educators, and work to fill both knowledge and labour gaps in the sector.

“USask has a strong history of providing research that actively improves how agricultural producers feed the world,” said USask Vice-President Research Baljit Singh. “This partnership is an example of how our institution is focused on innovation and creating new paths of discovery by working with industry.”

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USask computer scientist Ian Stavness (foreground) and graduate students Blanche Leyeza (centre) and Jordan Ubbens (left) train computers to digitally analyze plant images. Photographed in 2019, pre-COVID-19. (Photo: David Stobbe, USask).

Singh points to the expertise found in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, and the Global Institutes for Food Security and Water Security as examples of USask’s rich resources for the agriculture industry in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan holds more than 40 percent of Canada’s arable farmland, and over 30 million acres used for crop production each year. This, combined with the strong research climate and a tradition of innovation from industry, is establishing the province as a world leader for agtech.

“Post-secondary institutions are a key component to any innovative ecosystem,” said Jordan McFarlen, business incubator manager, Cultivator powered by Conexus. “The University of Saskatchewan is synonymous with agriculture in Canada. We’re excited to have them as an Agtech Accelerator partner and look forward to working together to further establish Saskatchewan as a global agtech hub.”

The partnerships between USask and the Agtech Accelerator is based on a three-year agreement. This year, USask will provide $20,000, with a potential total investment of up to $180,000 throughout the agreement.

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