Food Innovation Strategies around the Globe

April 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

There is much interest and continued discussion on “innovation”. Some of this is a result of the recently published review of federal R&D investment in Canada, and mostly, how this investment is not being transferred into new commercial products or improved technologies. Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada is in the process of defining the next policy framework, in which innovation is considered a key driver for competitiveness and adaptability for the agri-food industry.

The recent federal budget highlights support for innovation, including increased support for NRC IRAP, venture capital, Business-led Centres of Excellence, and an improved SRED tax incentive program. For the food industry specifically, some of these will be helpful. Still, we seem far behind other jurisdictions, with food manufacturing specific innovation programs to recognize the importance this sector plays in many economies. 

One example is from Hightech Europe . This organization received $3.4M EURO to create the “First European Food processing Network of Excellence”. It’s objective is to link European competencies in the food processing sector. Admittedly, they state that “excellent research has been carried out but has not always lead to substantial innovations in the market”.  This is the same worry that we hear from reviews that examine Canada’s performance with research and commercial outcomes. Other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the US have also invested funds in food specific innovation strategies, granting programs, and physical infrastructure, such as the newly created $26M Food Bowl in New Zealand.

We know that the Canadian food industry is globally competitive with exports going to over 180 countries. To remain competitive and continue to grow international markets, Canada should similarly focus support on the food industry, through strategic innovation programs. While support for knowledge creation is important, support for knowledge transfer is also required – with programs that balance ideas with implementation — much like our competitors are doing now around the world.

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Entry filed under: Innovation News, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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