The federal government has a plan to grow new sectors of Canada’s economy though superclusters.
After a nine-month long competition, Ottawa awarded a piece of a $950-million investment Thursday to five such consortiums in agriculture, oceans, technology, manufacturing and robotics.
In Saskatchewan, the award went to Protein Industries Canada (PIC).
“The concept of a cluster is to get everyone together, take the private sector money, get government to partner with us, let us drive it,” Murad Al-Katib, one of the men behind PIC explained. “Let’s create jobs and commercialization.”
Al-Katib is well-known in the Saskatchewan business community, particularly his expertise on lentils and other plant-based proteins.
He says for too long Saskatchewan producers have simply grown a product and then shipped it off to another country, typically China and India.
With this supercluster innovation, the producers and those involved can now, he says, ask themselves the question: what more can we do?
“How do we make food products, snacks, pastas, bakery products? How do we make those products from all of the fractions of the plant, canola, lentils, peas, chickpeas, wheat?” Al-Katib said.
He adds the cluster brings together those involved in business, marketing, technology and the experts from the farm to grow this economy not just in Saskatchewan, but across Western Canada.
Al-Katib predicts through this alliance of people, the future for agriculture is bright.
“The artificial technology, robotics, that’s how we are going to create a very different sector from what it looks like today.”