Lethbridge College is ready to help the agriculture industry after receiving one of the most significant applied research grants in the college’s history. The college was awarded one of just six new Technology Access Centres (TAC) across Canada by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) on Tuesday.
The $1.75 million five-year renewable grant will be used to create the Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre (IATC), which will help farmers, growers and food processors across the country tap into the latest research and recognized expertise at the college.
“This announcement is extremely significant and welcome news,” says Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO. “It signifies to Canada’s agriculture industry that we are here to support their needs and find solutions to the challenges they face. The Integrated Agriculture Technology Centre will help to drive forward one of the country’s most important industries and provide a boost to the provincial economy.”
The IATC will offer clients from across the agriculture industry - including large and small-scale crop producers, greenhouse growers, aquaculture operations, food processors, and ag-tech companies - access to applied research and development, technical services and consulting and training and education, with a focus on the college’s core research areas of aquaculture, crop production and wet processing.
“Agriculture is one of our region’s largest industries with more than 900 farms, many of which are small- or medium-sized enterprises, generating $1.1 billion per year,” said Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Lethbridge College Associate Vice President Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Through the support of NSERC, the IATC will offer clients access to expert consultants, customized services, specialized equipment and facilities, and unique technologies in areas such as waste treatment, irrigation, water processing, automation and food safety.”
The IATC will operate within the college’s Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARIE) and is part of a network of 60 TACs nationwide through Tech-Access Canada, each serving a specific geographic area with a focus on strengthening a sector of significance to that region.
Lethbridge College’s commitment to agriculture and ag-tech applied research has grown significantly with a deliberate strategy that has built capacity with infrastructure and dedicated researchers in the Aquaculture Centre of Excellence, the Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science and an applied research chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology.
“The ability to support local agriculture enterprises and help them grow and scale represents a huge opportunity for the college and community, especially at a time of great uncertainty and change in the Canadian and global economy," says Megan Shapka, manager of the IATC and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “As part of the established network of TACs, we will share best practices and foster collaborations with industry, government, and other postsecondary institutions across Canada and help drive economic growth by providing local, accessible, and affordable research and development services."
Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region. It brings together researchers, community organizations and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications. Lethbridge College was named one of Canada’s top 50 research colleges in 2019.
LISTEN: Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Lethbridge College Associate Vice President Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Megan Shapka, manager of the IATC and Innovation and Entrepreneurship, speak about the IATC: