Western Canada's protein supercluster tapped for a cut of $950 million


Protein Industries Canada was named today as one of the winning proponents under the federal Innovation Superclusters Program.

The funding model is part of the federal government’s Innovation and Skills Plan “to spark growth and help Canada realize its potential as a global leader in innovation” though creating large-scale industry partnerships.

Protein Industries Canada, based in Saskatchewan, was one of nine finalists announced for a piece of $950 million in government funding. Agriculture was well represented in both the protein cluster and the tech-laden smart agri-food supercluster (Alberta-based), but only the protein cluster was successful.

The other four successful clusters include: oceans (Atlantic Canada), artificial intelligence (Quebec), manufacturing (Ontario), and digital technology (B.C.). How the clusters will split the $950 million has yet to be determined.

Read more: What is a Supercluster?

Protein Industries Canada (PIC) is a group of 120 private-sector companies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders across Western Canada aimed at developing the potential of plant-based proteins from crops such as canola, pulses, grains, hemp, and flax.

PIC’s work will focus on improvements and opportunities in four areas: crop breeding, crop production, value-added processing, and export development.

Frank Hart, board chair of PIC says, “Plant based protein is a $13 billion market of which Canada currently has a minimal share. We need to seize this opportunity before our competitors do.”

By 2050, the global population is expected to be 30 per cent larger. At the same time, people are becoming more affluent, demanding more protein, and turning to crop proteins to supply a healthier diet. These trends add up to a projected need for 59 to 98 per cent more crop protein by 2050, according to PIC’s news release.

The federal funding supplements roughly $400 million of cash, in-kind commitments, and venture capital support that PIC has already secured from its members

According to an independent study, this initiative is estimated to generate over $700 million in new commercial activity and billions in incremental GDP over the next decade together with approximately 4,700 new jobs.

“This has huge implications for the western Canadian economy. Farmers, service companies, value added processors, academic institutions, consumers, and through spinoff benefits, everyone on the prairies and throughout Canada will stand to benefit,” says Hart

For more details, read the PIC Backgrounder here.

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