First Smart Farm of Its Kind in Canada Launches in Ottawa at Area X.O
Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada's Capital, together with the City of Ottawa, announced the launch of the Ottawa Smart Farm at Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration in Canada’s Capital.
The first of its kind in Canada, the Ottawa Smart Farm will help drive our economic recovery, and the long-term sustainability of our agriculture and agri-food sector sustainability. Leveraging $29 million in anchor investment from the City of Ottawa, and $29 million in public and private sector investment in Area X.O, it provides producers, agtech innovators, and firms access to:
• One of the most advanced communications test systems in the world;
• Cutting-edge AI and data analytic technologies;
• 100 acres of secure, completely gated farmland and demonstration area; and
• The highest tech talent concentration per capita in North America.
These capabilities enable smart agriculture1 and data-driven decision-making that increases the productivity, performance and profitability of producers. Together, these assets will:
• Facilitate the development, commercialization and application of new agtech solutions;
• Catalyze new global market opportunities for agtech innovators, startups and SMEs; and
• Create new agtech products, firms, and high-value jobs in the nation’s capital.
Established by Invest Ottawa and the City of Ottawa at Area X.O, the smart farm will help producers and agtech firms address key challenges facing the agriculture and agri-food industry, and consumers worldwide. For example, it is estimated that global population growth will necessitate a 30-70% increase in food production over the next three decades. Moreover, the global pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and trade, and slowed the growth of Canada’s agri-food sector, which generated $60 billion in exports in 2019.
The Ottawa Smart Farm will enable producers and innovators create, test, demonstrate and commercialize new technologies that address these and other issues. The emerging solutions will help to improve crop yield and quality; optimize production efficiency and costs; reduce waste and carbon emissions from agricultural operations; further enhance food safety and security; and strengthen overall farm management, performance and productivity.
To date, many Ottawa innovators and firms have leveraged the capabilities and expertise available through the Ottawa Smart Farm in their research, technology development and business. These organizations include Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Carleton University, Cheetah Networks, DOT/Raven, Eleven-X, Farm Credit Canada (FCC), Farmers Edge, Fertilizer Canada, GPS Ontario, Hexagon | AutonomouStuff, InDro Robotics, Intelliculture, Microsoft, Pessl, Rakr, Soil Optix, Trimble, the University of Ottawa, and 6Harmonics.
“The Ottawa Smart Farm allows us to support our important agricultural sector at a time when uncertainty is high due to the changing climate, price instabilities, access to labour and now, a global pandemic. The cutting-edge agricultural technologies in use at the farm will reduce uncertainty for producers, support more sustainable agriculture and build resilience. The Ottawa Smart Farm really is growing the future.”
His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
“We have established a bold vision: to help Ottawa become a global leader in smart farming technology, innovation and advanced agriculture economic development. We’re building on decades of disruptive tech capability and internationally recognized expertise. And we’re bringing these strengths to bear on the agricultural sector through the Ottawa Smart Farm at Area X.O. We aim to help farmers, innovators, and firms leverage world-class technology to make informed decisions that accelerate innovation, production and export. This will increase the performance, profitability and global market opportunity for our producers and agtech companies and the resilience of our agricultural industry.”
Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards
“Building on the top tech talent, communications and cybersecurity capabilities of our global tech hub, Invest Ottawa, the City of Ottawa, and our many collaborators have established strong regional, national and global agtech partnerships. Leveraging our world-class technology, data analytics and communications infrastructure, the Ottawa Smart Farm enables researchers and firms to collaborate productively and impactfully with others around the world. This includes the ability to monitor and gather accurate agricultural data in real-time, onsite and at a distance. This will help to unlock new global R&D, business and export opportunities for agtech innovators in the Capital and across the country.”
Kelly Daize, Director, CAV Programs, Area X.O, Invest Ottawa
“Ottawa is uniquely positioned to help local and global innovators address key challenges facing the agriculture sector. In addition to our deep technology expertise, Ottawa is the only large city in Canada with a substantial agriculture sector with more than 1,000 working farms. Internationally known for our research capacity, our region is also home to many regulatory agencies, research centres and the Greenbelt, including 4,000 hectares of high-quality agriculture land leased to producers. Area X.O brings these capabilities together at the Ottawa Smart Farm. We are proud to serve as an investor and partner in this critical facility, and the value it is delivering to farmers, producers and agri-tech firms.”
Geraldine Wildman Program Manager, Natural Systems and Rural Affairs, City of Ottawa
“GPS Ontario has served as a pioneer in the precision agriculture industry for the last two decades. We promote complete farm solutions from hardware to data management, providing a completely tailored solution for farmers in Eastern Canada and support for growers across North America. The Smart Farm at Area X.O provides our firm with critical validation and demonstration space that outfitted with the advanced technology, expertise and industry Best Management Practices (BMPs). We aim to demonstrate and educate growers about how to make agriculture more sustainable and profitable, and leverage technology to grow more with less.”
Jordan Wallace, Owner, GPS Ontario; Sales, Service, Support, & Training Representative, Trimble
“FCC has been a proud supporter of the Ottawa Smart Farm project since the very beginning and we are happy to contribute to the advancement of this important research, innovation and development facility. Developing these technologies helps to position our agriculture and food industry as a world leader in agtech and open the door for Canadian producers to be on the cutting edge of the practices that will make them successful.”
Michael Hoffort, President and CEO, Farm Credit Canada (FCC), and Ottawa Smart Farm sponsor at Area X.O
“Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) is proud to contribute expertise and support to industry- led projects at the Ottawa Smart Farm at Area X.O. This facility has the assets required to drive smart farming in Canada, including novel technologies, a secure live demonstration area, and a collaborative approach to innovation. It also directly supports AAFC’s mandate. We recognize that science, combined with innovation and collaboration, is critical to maintaining the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners at the Ottawa Smart Farm on these shared goals.”
Xiaoyuan Geng, Ph. D, Head Soil Scientist, Canadian Soil Information Service (CanSIS), Science and Technology Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Quick Facts About the Ottawa Smart Farm
The Ottawa Smart Farm, established by Invest Ottawa and the City of Ottawa at Area X.O, is differentiated by its capabilities for ag-tech innovators and firms. These differentiators include:
• One of the most advanced, integrated communications test infrastructures in the world with many GPS systems, 4G/LTE, WiFi, LoRa, TV White Spaces and authentic pre-commercial 5G (including mmWave) from Nokia and Ericsson and satellite communication systems
• Azure FarmBeats, a purpose-built, industry-specific cloud platform built on top of Azure to enable actionable insights from data by Microsoft
• Internet of Things (IoT) and AI-based sensors from Trimble and MH Corbin that monitor soil conditions, crop performance
• Connected and autonomous vehicles, including low-speed autonomous shuttles, robotics and autonomous systems, and drones from Nokia and InDro Robotics
• An On-Farm Weather Station from Farmers Edge that tracks important conditions in the field including temperature, wind speed, wind direction, dewpoint, rainfall and more
• Industry-leading Best Management Practice (BMPs)
• 100 acres of farmland located at the largest secure test facility in Canada, housed at a former federal agriculture research facility at a fenced and gated 1,866-acre site at Area X.O
• Access to top tech talent and agricultural expertise from top post-secondary institutions, firms, government labs and innovation players that contribute to Ottawa as a thriving global tech hub
About Area X.O
Area X.O is the futureplex of innovation and collaboration in Canada’s Capital that enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing, and application of next-generation technologies. Combining diverse expertise with Ottawa’s telecom and cybersecurity strengths as a tech hub, Area X.O helps local, national, and global startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments address grand challenges and opportunities. It fuels the creation, commercialization, and adoption of breakthrough innovations in mobility, autonomy and connectivity that benefit our community, economy, and environment. These applications span telecom; smart agriculture; defence, security, and public safety; unmanned aerial vehicles; and smart cities. Established and managed by Invest Ottawa and evolving from the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility, Area X.O leverages critical support from world-class founding partners. These include: The Governments of Ontario and Canada, the City of Ottawa; Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, and Ottawa’s postsecondary institutions. For additional information, please visit: www.AreaXO.com
About Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada's Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in the City of Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa's full potential as a globally recognized, innovative and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa's diversified economy and high quality of life. Invest Ottawa is also the founder and manager of the Ottawa L5, the first integrated smart city living lab and connected autonomous vehicle test facility of its kind in North America. Since 2012, Invest Ottawa has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and companies; helped firms attract more than $666 million in capital; contributed to the creation of more than 9,714 jobs; and attracted $862 million in domestic and foreign investment. For additional information, please visit: www.investottawa.ca
1 Smart agriculture refers to the application of leading technologies, such as IoT, robotics, drones, AI and data analytics, to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural output, while optimizing farm operations and the labor required for production.
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