Innovation Finds a Home in Alberta – Dr. Stan Blade

Where are we headed in agriculture? What does the future hold for biotechnology and food production? Where will the next big innovations in these areas come from? Dr Stan Blade hopes those innovations will come from in Alberta. Dr. Blade is the CEO of Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions. They help companies working on research and innovation in the areas of agriculture, food and forestry to acquire the resources they need to be successful.  Research dollars are becoming a scarce resource for many companies especially smaller startups.  If agriculture declines research funding eventually innovation will begin to dry up and that will have an impact on farmers profits and the over competitiveness of Canada globally. 

I spoke to Stan Blade at the International Livestock Congress event in Calgary , Alberta about who Alberta Innovates Biosolutions is, what they do and what the future holds for biotechnology in Agriculture. 

SEE MORE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL LIVESTOCK CONGRESS

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Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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4 Comments

Ken Coles

I’ve heard the comment several times that we’ve had issues with the commercialization of innovation. I’m troubled with this general statement and it’s impact and expectations placed on research. Certain things are just not meant to make it into practice. Sometimes seemlingly great innovations are just not practicle in the real world. I don’t think that we should create an environment where we are afraid to take risks and not allow researchers to explore their ideas. Seems to me that it’s the perfect use of public funds.

On another note, I’m also concerned with the direction of abandoning production related research for value added. We’ve been at the value added thing for over a decade now and our best and biggest successes are still coming from improved production of commodities like canola and wheat.

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Andy

Another government entity. Great!

I don’t think Albertans have had much trouble innovating in the past. The Noble blade is a good example of innovation, without the need of a government body ‘directing’ innovation. More recently, there is the Bioagtive system for tractor exhaust. Right, Ken?

I agree with Ken (as usual) about increasing production. There is only so much frying oil, bread, and steaks that we can consume here in Alberta. The majority of our production goes for export, and exported in raw form is often the most economical (shipping and longevity). Consistently increasing our net per acre through higher yields and lower inputs is the real innovation that needs to be explored.

Value added is good as long as the market for it is near. It is bad if we have to have the government creating and mandating markets for a product just so we can ‘add value’.

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Stan Blade

Thanks for the comments about innovation. I agree that productions research is key….about half of our $55m book is focused on all aspects of crop and livestock productivity.

I am less convinced by your suggestion that innovation just happens….could be true in some cases, but we are investing in areas such as genomics and nanoscience because this will change the way we (and certainly our competitors) do business in the future!

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Ken Coles

Can you split the livestock and crop budget? And where can we get details regarding the cropping initiatives in particular. Thanks!

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