Submissions for this challenge are now closed.

ABOUT THE CHALLENGE

Emissions Reduction Alberta’s new $40 million Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge is now accepting applications. This funding opportunity will accelerate innovation in support of long-term competitiveness and stimulate growth in the critically important agriculture, agri-food, fibre, and forestry sectors. It provides near-term capital to innovators in these critical Alberta industries, while also identifying opportunities and solutions for longer term economic recovery, investment attraction, job creation, and emissions reduction.

ERA will fund up to $5 million per project and up to 50 per cent of total project costs. ERA may consider reducing this requirement for projects where strong justification is provided. Funding is being sourced from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters (LFE’s) in Alberta through Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. Proponents must match ERA’s investment with private funds.

Innovators with pilot, demonstration, scale-up, and first-of-kind deployment projects are invited to apply. Proposals may be submitted by farmers, ranchers, innovators, technology developers, Indigenous communities, industry, industrial associations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), research and development (R&D) organizations, universities, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, government research labs, and individuals. Partnerships and collaborations between multiple organizations are encouraged. ERA’s $40 million Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge is well-aligned with current and future funding programs through the Agriculture Funding Consortium (AFC) and the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN).

ERA will work with AFC, CAAIN, and other related programs to explore co-funding opportunities and reduce the administrative burden for applicants. ERA will also work to align with the research priorities and project opportunities identified by the new Results Driven Agricultural Research (RDAR) initiative.

The application deadline is August 27, 2020 at 5 p.m. MDT

Click the links below for more details:

WHY TARGET AGRICULTURE, AGRI-FOOD, AND FORESTRY SECTORS?

Agriculture and forestry are critical to the economy of Alberta. This investment, driven by the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) regulation, will help advance innovative processes and technologies that increase Alberta’s long-term competitiveness, growth, and export readiness. There is significant opportunity to use resources more efficiently, reduce emissions, and grow production. It builds on Alberta’s strengths in agriculture, forestry, and land use. These investments can be used to bolster these existing industries and support projects from small and medium enterprises in these sectors.

In 2018, the agriculture and forest sectors employed over 100,000 Albertans. Alberta’s agri-food exports reached a record $11.6 billion, an increase of 3 per cent from 2017 (led by wheat, beef, and canola) and forest products exports reached $4.2 billion, an increase of 20 per cent from 2017. Globally, Canada is the fifth-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, with the total value of sales topping $55 billion annually.

Our agricultural sector is an important part of Alberta’s economy. In 2017, the province produced:

  • Over 40 per cent of Canada’s total cattle inventory
  • 33 per cent of the country’s wheat
  • 32 per cent of its canola
  • Half of its barley.

In 2017, Alberta emitted over 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from agricultural, agri-food and forestry operations combined. This is over 28 per cent of Canada’s total emissions from these sectors. There is an opportunity to reduce emissions and lower costs in the production and processing of food and fibre, and also leverage nature-based solutions that sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

The $40 million Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge will assist farmers, ranchers, industry, innovators, and more as they work to ensure sustainable food and fibre supplies, navigate the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing market implications.

Investments in food, fibre, and bioindustries fits within ERA’s portfolio. Since 2009, ERA has funded over $95 million worth of projects in the food, fibre and bioindustries. These projects are estimated to reduce emissions by 11.4 Mt CO2e by 2030. With several of Alberta’s large industrial emitters found in this sector, opportunities exist to not only reduce emissions from production and processing of food and fibre, but also to leverage nature-based solutions and other activities that sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

FOCUS AREAS

ERA hosted a workshop to identify ideas with experts from the agriculture, agri-food, and forestry sectors. Ideas included creating value from agricultural and forest waste, nutrient management, automation and digitization of operations, genomics, applications of alternative energy, zero carbon seeding, monitoring and detection technologies, and nature based-solutions. Innovative solutions for GHG emissions mitigation, abatement, and sequestration across Alberta’s food, farming, and forestry industries. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Land use changes for GHG mitigation and sequestration, including innovation relating to soil carbon content, soil health, water use, etc.
  • Quantification and measurement techniques for productivity improvement, enhanced sustainability & biodiversity, and/or GHG monitoring as a critical enabler for GHG reductions
  • Advanced genetics and omics for crops and livestock
  • Solutions for improved nutrient management including novel fertilizers and improved practices
  • Novel techniques for tillage, seeding, harvesting etc.
  • Advanced cultivation techniques including vertical/containerized farming, hydroponics, and greenhouse technologies
  • Digitization and automation for enhanced production and resource management
  • Solutions for biological methane emissions
  • Improved forest management and silviculture
  • Deriving co-products and value-added opportunities from agricultural and forestry waste products.

Eligible technologies can come from anywhere the world, but projects must be piloted, demonstrated, or deployed in Alberta. Projects that involve multiple sites are eligible for funding.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT STAGE

Expressions of interest are invited for projects that advance innovation to the stages of field piloting, commercial demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial implementation, as described below:

  • Field Test/Pilot: At this stage the technology or innovation is ready to be field tested in an operational environment. Projects in this category include scale up of prototypes to representative pilot scale and subsequent in-field testing of pilot units.
  • Commercial Demonstration: At this stage of development, the technology or innovation is approaching the final commercial product and representative systems have been built. Projects in this category include demonstration of near- or fully-commercial scale systems in an operational environment.
  • First-of-Kind Commercial Implementation: At this stage, the technology is ready for first-of-kind commercial deployment. Projects in this category will involve design, construction, and operation of the technology in its final commercial form, with the intent to operate the technology for its full commercial life.
SUBMISSION PROCESS

Submissions will be selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and GHG quantification will conduct an independent, rigorous, and transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor. Once approved by ERA’s Board of Directors, funding will be distributed on a milestone basis, and the progress of each project is reported on until completion. All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta.