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Canadian agriculture innovators pitching for US$1.25M in Saskatoon

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Canadian agriculture innovators pitching for US$1.25M in Saskatoon
WATCH: Kirk Haney and Mark Thompson explain how the Nutrien-Radicle Challenge Canada can help solve agriculture and food challenges through novel tech solutions – Oct 2, 2019

UPDATE: Terramera was announced the winner of the growth-stage category and US$1 million. Livestock Water Recycling won the early-stage category and $250,000.

Agriculture innovators are vying for US$1.25 million through the first-ever Nutrien-Radicle Challenge Canada in Saskatoon this week.

San Diego-based acceleration fund Radicle Growth said it partnered with Saskatoon-based fertilizer company Nutrien to launch the competition.

The goal is to identify and invest in entrepreneurs who are solving agriculture and food challenges with novel tech solutions through capital infusion, officials said.

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One growth-stage company will win $1 million and the winner of the early-stage competition will receive $250,000. Both winners will also gain access to Radicle and Nutrien platforms to accelerate the development of their technologies.

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This is the first time investments of this size, and this manner, have been offered in the agriculture and food industry, officials said.

“Accelerating the pace of innovation in Canada and enabling new agricultural solutions that can help make growers around the world more sustainable, efficient and profitable,” Mark Thompson, chief corporate development and strategy officer at Nutrien, said in a press release.

WATCH (May 21, 2019): Agri-tourism growing in Saskatchewan

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Agri-tourism growing in Saskatchewan

Over 100 Canadian companies submitted proposals, and eight were chosen as finalists by Radicle.

The finalists in the growth-stage category are:

  • FarmLead, Ottawa — an online grain marketplace for buying and selling grain;
  • Renaissance Bioscience, Vancouver — a bioengineering company that uses yeast as a platform microbe to create valuable industrial products;
  • P&P Optica, Waterloo, Ont. — a food-processing technology provider that leverages hyperspectral imaging to detect foreign objects and assess food quality; and
  • Terramera, Vancouver — a developer of high-performance natural alternatives to synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers that has pioneered a method to target active ingredients to cellular delivery.

The finalists selected in the early-stage competition are:

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  • First Pass Technologies, Calgary — uses machine learning to optimize route selection within a farm by integrating into existing, embedded guidance hardware supplied by equipment manufacturers;
  • Livestock Water Recycling, Calgary — segregates and concentrates manure nutrients into two valuable fertilizer products while recycling clean water for reuse;
  • Motorleaf, Montreal — uses artificial intelligence to make precise and automated yield forecasts for commercial hydroponic greenhouses; and
  • Precision.ai, Saskatoon — builds artificially intelligent drones that autonomously survey fields in real-time to recognize plant growth and spot-spray weeds with surgically targeted micro-doses.

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The eight finalists will present in front of a panel of judges at the Saskatoon event on Oct. 1 and 2, with the winners announced on Wednesday afternoon.

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