Saskatchewan is getting a slice of the federal government’s innovation pie.
In last year’s budget, the federal government announced $950 million for the winners of a competition that was central to the Liberals’ innovation plan.
It wanted to create “superclusters” around the country which were designed to connect business with research in projects with the goal to help diversify Canada’s economy and boost fast-growing sectors.
Last fall 50 applicants were shortlisted to nine and the five winners were chosen from that group.
Saskatchewan-based Protein Industries Canada (PIC) is one of those winners.
“Agricultural science is involved in this but also business innovation, transportation innovation, calculation of big data, it was a comprehensive proposal,” Minister Ralph Goodale explained during a phone call Thursday with reporters.
“It goes to a fundamental requirement. You could hardly think of anything more fundamental than feeding the world.”
PIC is a company which aims to make Canada a world leader in supplying plant-based proteins and related-products.
“This is a growing global market in which Canada and Saskatchewan and the west have a natural advantage to start with and they can focus on expansion and growth globally,” Goodale said.
PIC is an alliance of 120-private-sector companies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders across Western Canada aimed at fully developing the potential of plant-based proteins from crops such as canola pulses, grains, hemp, and flax.
“I want to thank the federal government for their vision in investing in this project and particularly Ministers Goodale, Nohi, and Carr for their work in securing the investment. This is an exciting opportunity for agricultural across the Prairies and food processors across Canada,” said Frank Hart, board chair of PIC.
“Plant-based protein is a $13 billion market of which Canada currently has a minimal share. We need to seize this opportunity before our competitors do,” said Hart.
This initiative is estimated to generate over $700 million in new commercial activity along with billions of dollars in incremental GDP over the next decade together with approximately 4,700 new jobs.
The four other winners of the supercluster competition include an artificial-intelligence bid from Quebec, manufacturing from Ontario, digital technology out of British Columbia and ocean research and potential out of Atlantic Canada.