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digital agriculture equipment in a truck with operator on a field of crops

Academics and industry tackle digital agriculture challenges

First AIMday™ event in Manitoba

November 4, 2020 — 

Can intelligent technology help ensure value chains can continue to function uninterrupted in the face of a future pandemic? How can we cost-effectively collect and utilize soil data to automate variable rate applications of nutrients and pesticides? What are some privacy concerns around data gathering and storage?

These were some of the questions from industry that were addressed at the AIMday™ Digital Agriculture event held recently. Manitoba academic researchers and industry representatives came together to discuss challenges in digital agriculture and to develop pathways to new collaborations.

Manitoba Industry-Academia Partnership (MI-AP) hosted the AIMday™ Digital Agriculture event virtually — the first step in a process that is expected to lead to joint research projects that will address specific industry needs. The event generated eight new partnerships which companies and scientists are now exploring further to expand the boundaries of knowledge and create economic advantages.

photo of Myrna Grahn within the interior of Smartpark Innovation Hub

Myrna Grahn, MI-AP project manager

“Industry-academia collaboration is a core priority for Manitoba and is vital for the province’s future economic success,” said Myrna Grahn, MI-AP project manager. “This first AIMday™ was an excellent opportunity to bring together industry and researchers to discuss how digital agriculture drives decision making and attracts better outcomes for Manitoba’s agriculture sector.”

Researchers from the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, Red River College and Assiniboine Community College met with representatives of four companies and organizations to discuss innovative solutions to industry issues.

Questions submitted by companies were the basis for company-led discussions with academics from various disciplines. A structured one-hour discussion around each question enabled industry representatives and academics to assess whether they can work together to find a solution to the specific challenge presented by the company.

Of the 12 proposals submitted by researchers in response to specific industry questions, eight were selected by the companies to receive initial funding of $1,000 each. Upon successful collaboration, additional funding may be available to the researchers to further advance their projects with industry.

The successful projects are:

  • Derek Brewin (UM agribusiness and agricultural economics)
  • Carson Leung (UM computer science)
  • Parmila Thulasiraman and Ruppa K. Thulasiram (UM computer science)
  • Baljeet Singh (Assiniboine Community College, agriculture and environment)
  • Jon Ziprick (Red River College applied computer education
  • Rasit Eskicioglu (UM computer science)
  • Karen Kabel (two proposals were selected, Red River College applied computer education)

“With the support of our research partners, we are making advances in our health and health care, advancing technologies that improve our quality of life, increasing our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, strengthening our communities, and protecting our environment,” says Jay Doering, UM’s associate vice-president (partnerships). “Together, industry and academia can solve the problems of today for a better tomorrow.”

The event received financial support from Western Economic Diversification Canada, which provides targeted financial support to encourage post-secondary researchers to connect with industry and form new partnerships. MI-AP plans to host AIMday™ events of different themes and topics throughout the year.

AIMday™ was originally initiated and successfully developed by Uppsala University in Sweden. Manitoba Industry-Academia Partnership (MI-AP) is the official partner of this international program.

For updates on these initiatives and other upcoming event visit www.miap.ca

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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