Innovations and new technologies from fields to fork  

The agri-food sector is a major driver of economic activity in Alberta. The sector contributes significantly to our GDP, trade balance, and employment, and serves as a crucial source of our food supply. Agri-food plays a vital role in regenerating soil, environmental sustainability, and fostering innovation. With its many impacts, a vibrant agri-food sector is indispensable in forging a healthy, sustainable, and prosperous future for both present and future generations of Albertans.

The agri-food industry is at the forefront of some of the most exciting innovations. For researchers and companies, it is one of the most rewarding and productive fields in which to work and invest. Through our Agri-Food Innovation focus, Alberta Innovates is supporting advancements in the industry that increase productivity, reduce inputs, lower emissions, ensure a safe food supply, and sustainably produce more with less. Our goal is to grow Alberta’s agri-food economy and enhance its knowledge workforce through the development and application of emerging technology.   

Through the programs we fund under Agri-Food Innovation, we’re accelerating progress in research and innovation to bring the future of agriculture to life.  

Focus Areas  


Sustainability in agriculture includes lowering inputs and emissions reductions in the crop and livestock sectors while increasing productivity per acre or head. Key priorities in this area include biodiversity conservation, soil and water health as well as resilience and adaptation to climate change.  

Data and Digital Solutions  

Advancements in data and digital technologies are enabling the evolution of our agriculture and food systems, making them more resilient, more productive, and more sustainable. Data at the farm level is critical to informing producer decisions and improving profit. By 2050, the average farm is expected to generate four million data points every day (source). That’s why we’re investing in the technologies that will help effectively use this data and turn it into intelligence. Better decision making is the promise of the digital revolution, and better decisions means lowering transaction costs, reducing inefficiencies, and ensuring all parties have access to the information they need.  

Our support in this area is focused on finding new applications for digital approaches to the agri-food industry at different stages of the value chain. Think using artificial intelligence to develop models for optimizing livestock and crop production, using traceability technologies to provide consumers with trusted information about the products they’re buying, or applying digital logistics to streamline how manufacturing and supply chains work.  

Autonomous Systems  

Through the application of technological innovations, various operations and processes within the agricultural industry can be automated. Feedback systems that run independently are offering a simpler, more precise way to monitor and analyze food processing and crop and livestock production. 

We’re investing in areas like novel robotics integrating sensors, cameras, and edge devices to automate operations and management systems. We’re targeting innovations that can reduce costs, ease labour shortages, and improve the quality and safety of food and other agricultural products.  

Agriculture Biotechnology  

Agriculture biotechnology refers to an assortment of scientific techniques, based on molecular biology, that can be used to improve agricultural productivity. Using molecular tools, these technologies are increasing the pace of improvement between each generation of crops and livestock and enabling rapid testing and surveillance for diseases. We aim to support targeted improvements that lead to increased resilience, resistance, and sustainability and that ultimately reduce inputs to produce more with less.  

Food Processing Innovation 

With the world population steadily increasing and an estimated one-third of food lost or wasted, there is a crucial need to both optimize our food system and increase the level of safe, quality, and accessible food in a sustainable manner. Food processing has a significant role to play in ensuring that agricultural commodities are transformed into a shelf-stable and convenient format without comprising quality.  

We support the development of innovations for food waste reduction, smart packaging, processing technologies, integrated supply chain solutions, and digital technologies. These innovations should improve the efficiencies, profitability, and value added of agri-food commodities. 

Prion Research   

Prion diseases, which occur as a result of misfolded proteins in the brain, can manifest in ways that impact both people and animals. Examples include dementia in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk.  

At Alberta Innovates, we have built and supported a world-class research infrastructure for prion and protein folding research through the Alberta Prion Research Institute. Our continued funding for CWD research aims to address and mitigate threats to the agriculture industry, the environment, and potentially human health.  

Our Funding Opportunities 

Agri-Food and Bioindustrial Program (ABIP) 

The Agri-Food and Bioindustrial Innovation Program offers funding to accelerate the development of technologies to enhance Alberta’s agri-food and bioindustrial sectors. If you’re an innovator working on a technology that could optimize productivity, reduce production costs, add value to a commodity, or reduce harmful environmental effects, you may be eligible.  

Funding of up to $500,000 per project is available through continuous intake. There is no deadline to apply. 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Research Program  

The CWD Research Program supports collaborative research directly related to understanding and managing the spread the spread of CWD, a prion disease affecting elk, deer, and other cervids.  

Agriculture Funding Consortium  

Alberta Innovates is a member of the Agriculture Funding Consortium, a collaborative body of agricultural organizations that provides coordinated funding. The consortium supports sustainability, diversification, and long-term growth for agriculture and the food industry in Western Canada.  

Legacy Programs 

Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge  

The Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge provided funding to develop or advance smart technologies to increase productivity, reduce production costs, or increase the value of agri-food commodities. The program has now closed and will not be offering funding in the future. Visit our news article on SAFDAC for information on the 18 projects previously funded under the program. The ABIP program continues to offer funding for similar projects.  

Alberta Prion Research Institute 

Since 2005, the Alberta Prion Research Institute was integral to attracting researchers to get involved in prion science, leading Alberta to become world-renowned as a major centre for research in these diseases. Targeted funding over the years created a strong prion research infrastructure and an international network to carry on this work. The institution’s operations concluded in March 2022 after successfully achieving its mandate.


Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network  

Alberta Innovates led the establishment of the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN)

CAAIN drives collaborative research and innovation from coast to coast. The group works together to support the development of new solutions for the most significant challenges facing Canada’s agri-food sector.  

Agri-Food Innovation Projects

Browse our Funded Projects library to review reports and summaries for funded projects. 

Explore the projects.


Virginia Mulligan, PhD

Senior Manager, Agri-Food Innovation