B.C.'s Agri-Technologies with Global Impact


    BRITISH COLUMBIA, April 27 /CNW/ - Innovations in agriculture, food and
bioproducts have had tremendous impact on B.C.'s economy. The B.C. agriculture
and food sectors alone generate over $9.1 billion in revenues annually and
employ over 67,800 people. These sectors account for traditional production,
food processing and the development of non-traditional products through the
use of advanced technologies.

    Innovative B.C. developments in these areas having global impact include:

    -   Helping Cows Avoid Milk Fever

        B.C. developments have advanced dairy animal health to prevent and
        treat milk fever, a disease that draws blood calcium to dangerously
        low levels faced in dairy cows. This ailment causes immobility in
        dairy cows for various lengths of time. This is similar to human's
        fight against the common cold. Fortunately, prevention and treatment
        developed locally are available to enable dairy cows to return to
        healthy milk production levels within a few days.

    -   Sustainable Packaging with a Small Energy Footprint

        The traditional freeze drying process was significantly improved in
        1996 when the first Radiant Energy Vacuum (REV) machine was developed
        in B.C. research facilities. This development advanced dehydration
        technology of pharmaceuticals, food and liquids. The new process is
        faster, more cost-effective, and higher in quality than traditional
        freeze drying processes. Benefits of this technology over traditional
        methods include its small energy footprint and the ability to process
        in minutes versus days.

    -   Wastewater: Recover, Recycle and Repeat

        A new technology platform developed in B.C. is refining wastewater to
        enhance plant growth. This technology recovers polluting nutrients
        such as phosphorus and ammonia, lowers costs associated with
        wastewater treatment facilities, and uses the recycled material as a
        slow-release fertilizer that is environmentally safe. This local
        innovation has access to a multi-billion dollar global market with
        growing interests in North America and Europe therefore highlighting
        BC's leadership in environmental sustainability.

    -   New Canola Protein to Compete with Soy, Dairy and Eggs

        B.C. is at the forefront of extracting and purifying the first canola
        protein that can compete with soy, dairy and egg proteins. These
        proteins are found in many prepared foods, nutritional supplements
        and personal care products. In traditional forms, canola is both
        inexpensive and common - found in everything from cooking oil to feed
        for farm livestock. Using advanced isolation technologies, this is a
        new frontier for food and bioproduct enthusiasts.

    To further B.C.'s leadership in advancing technologies in the
agriculture, food and bioproducts industry, the BC Innovation Council (BCIC)
has launched the BCIC Commercialization of Agricultural Technology (CAT)
Competition - a competition focused on transforming agri-food innovations into
real-world solutions.

    "The agri-food industry is a key contributor to B.C.'s economy, creating
jobs for British Columbians and bringing revenue into the province," said
Richard Hallman, Director, Life Sciences, BCIC. "The BCIC CAT Competition will
stimulate the industries' ability to adapt and take advantage of new
opportunities that benefit the economy."

    BCIC is committed to improving the competitiveness, sustainability, and
technological advancement of the agriculture, food and bioproducts sectors in
B.C. The BCIC CAT Competition was released under the $1.4 million BCIC
Agriculture, Food and Bioproducts Innovation Initiative with the support from
the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development and the
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

    About the BC Innovation Council

    The British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC) is the lead organization
charged with advancing innovation and commercialization in British Columbia.
BCIC is focused on accelerating the growth of our science and technology
communities and competitively positioning British Columbia in the global
science and technology economy in order to provide significant employment
opportunities and a high standard of living for British Columbians. BCIC is a
Crown agency of the Province of British Columbia. For more information about
BCIC, visit www.bcic.ca.

    About the BCIC CAT Competition

    The newly-launched BCIC Commercialization of Agricultural Technology
(CAT) Competition is focused on strengthening B.C.'s agriculture, food and
bioproducts sectors by bridging the gap between research and industry and
transforming innovations into real-world solutions. The competition is
currently accepting Expression of Interest (EOI) applications until April 30,
2009. Later this spring, 25 top applicants will receive vouchers (valued up to
$10,000) to advance to the next stage of the competition and develop their
business plans. The top four winners of the final Proof of Concept stage will
receive up to $250,000 in funding to make their ideas a commercial reality.
For more information about the BCIC CAT Competition, visit

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Stephanie Leung, Communications
Coordinator, British Columbia Innovation Council, (604) 602-5249,
1-800-665-7222, sleung@bcic.ca; Program Contact: Arlene Fernandez, Sr.
Projects Specialist, Life Sciences, (604) 602-5217, 1-800-665-7222,

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