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April 3, 2018

Skills and Innovation in the Agri-Food Sector

With spring finally here, this is our favourite time of the year to think about greener pastures and support for agriculture across the country. In honour of the lengthening days, we are focusing the next installment of our Sector Spotlight series on the Agri-food sector, a wide-ranging federal priority sector in which colleges and institutes are heavily implicated!

From farming to food manufacturing and the culinary arts, the agri-food sector is essential to Canada’s economy and the well-being of all Canadians. Thanks to a variety of programs that touch on all aspects of the food supply chain, colleges and institutes possess valuable expertise that supports growth and innovation in this vital industry. Did you know that CICan members across Canada offer over 350 programs related to agri-food, such as agri-business management, nutrition and food science, agricultural economics, and food bioscience? Their repertoire of programs includes over 110 diplomas, 180+ certificate programs, 20+ degrees, and 30+ post-graduate certificates or diplomas.

Improving food production requires technical know-how, but also passion and creativity to invent new processes, as well as new food products adapted to evolving tastes and needs. With such a variety of programs available, colleges and institutes have developed the expertise required to improve all aspects of food production. In fact, over 40 college-based research centres and laboratories are dedicated to improvements in agri-food across the country, including:

  • The Centre for Social Innovation in Agriculture at the Cégep de Victoriaville (QC) promotes a collaborative approach to help local producers adapt to new challenges in the agricultural sector; and,
  • Canada’s Smartest Kitchen at Holland College (PE) offers a host of services to businesses of all sizes, including food product development, market research and sensory testing.

Thanks to these specialized facilities, labs, and test kitchens, there are currently over 55 applied research projects related to the agri-food sector taking place in colleges and institutes across the country. For example:

  • Douglas College (BC), in collaboration with Applied Bio-nomics Ltd., is helping test new biological pest control methods adapted to the needs of BC’s blueberry producers;
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic (SK) is working with Saskatoon’s Great Western Brewing Company (GWBC) to develop a genetic profile of the firm’s yeast culture to ensure the continuity of its beer brands;
  • Niagara College (ON) is crafting a non-alcoholic lager for MADD Canada;
  • Olds College (AB) is growing gourmet mushrooms using the spent grains from beer brewing and recycling the barley as feed after the mushroom growing increases the grains’ protein; and,
  • George Brown College (ON) is helping to improve the shelf life of vegan alfredo sauce.

Innovation in the agri-food industry improves the lives of Canadians in many ways. And, as tastes and needs change, colleges and institutes will be at the leading edge of this evolving sector!

Join us at the Conference 2018 Business and Industry Breakfast!

Collaborating with business, industry, sector councils, and national organizations to overcome mutual challenges and build on success is an important part of the Canadian college and institute mandate. This priority will not be overlooked at Conference 2018!

On Tuesday morning (May 1, 2018), we invite you to join Portia MacDonald-DewhirstMark F. Collins, Mar ENG, BA, MBA; and more than 700 college and institute CEOs, senior administrators, board members, managers, faculty, and students from Canada and around the world at the Conference 2018 Business and Industry Breakfast.

Click to view the full conference schedule – and don’t forget to Register!

A new Action Plan for Official Languages from the federal government

CICan welcomes the promising new Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023 unveiled last week by the federal government. The Plan, presented by Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly in the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and dozens of ministers and deputies from across the country, represents an investment of $2.7 billion dollars over five years.

This new funding will support and enhance post-secondary programs offered in French, particularly in the areas of Health and Justice, as well as professional training for Early Childhood Workers in minority areas. The Plan will also ensure that funding is made available to promote and reinforce bilingualism among youth, an area that colleges and institutes have long supported and encouraged.

Supporting and enhancing post-secondary programs in French throughout Canada, as well as post-secondary programs offered in English in Quebec, will allow for the training of highly qualified professionals able to offer quality services in both official languages across all sectors, regardless of their first language.

Read the full press release from Canadian Heritage here.

An update from CIIP: college and institute consultation

Through its pre-arrival services and comprehensive data gathering, the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) has witnessed a significant shift in the immigration landscape and the demographics of newcomers destined for Canada since its inception 11 years ago. With this shift in mind, CIIP recently held a college and institute consultation in Toronto to foster a discussion about the role colleges play in supporting newcomers through pre and post arrival services.

Key highlights from the discussion on expanded and new service offering by colleges included:

  • Improving access to language programs online, particularly occupation-specific language training (OSLT);
  • Filling gaps in access to French language training in minority language environments;
  • Improving offering of occupation specific language training (OSLT) available in French, both online and in-person;
  • Improving offering of technical bridging programs online (for access both pre-arrival and within Canada outside of main urban centers);
  • Availability of advising services for immigrants before they arrive in Canada (online advising); and,
  • Increasing immigrant awareness and understanding of trades occupations across Canada.

CIIP will continue to coordinate and share knowledge on pre-arrival service needs, demographics and partnerships to strengthen the continuum of services between immigrant serving organizations.

Funding opportunities from Environment and Climate Change Canada

In early March, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) was pleased to announce the Low Carbon Economy Challenge in a goal to leverage Canadian ingenuity to generate clean growth in support of Canada’s climate action plan.

The Challenge will provide more than $500 million for projects that will generate clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All provinces, territories, businesses, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, and Indigenous communities and organizations who meet eligibility criteria will be able to apply.

Over the next few weeks, ECCC staff will be holding information sessions across the country for those interested in applying and learning more. Click to view the full schedule.

As leaders in sustainability and green innovation, we encourage colleges and institutes to participate!

Livestream the R$ Conference

Want to attend the upcoming RE$EARCH MONEY conference, Breaking Through the Status Quo: Scaling Canada’s Innovation Game, but can’t make it in person? Livestream the entire conference to take part in the the key discussions dominating the innovation landscape today, including Canada’s supercluster initiative, government procurement, and BDC’s new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative. Learn how Canadian firms are working with educational institutions and other innovation intermediaries to prepare and fully utilize our talent, hear from our chief scientists on the future of science advice in an innovation economy, listen to experts discuss the latest ways industry and academia are working together, and much more.

Our Livestream option is fully interactive – discuss your opinions with other participants and send questions to speakers in real time. All livestream participants will get access to the full conference after the event, ensuring you won’t miss a moment.

The conference will take place on April 10 and 11, 2018 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Livestream tickets are $195+tax, including the evening panel, and student pricing is as low as $88+tax. Livestream tickets to our exclusive evening panel with the chief scientists are only $20+tax! Don’t miss Canada’s premium innovation conference! Learn more and register here.

Participate in the AESIS Impact of Science 2018 Conference

Following the federal government’s Fundamental Science Review, its Innovation and Skills Agenda, and most recently, the Innovation Superclusters initiative, assessing, enabling and advancing the societal impact of science in Canada has been top of mind for many Canadians. In this context, the Network for Advancing & Evaluating the Societal Impact of Science (AESIS) is excited to be hosting its upcoming Impact of Science 2018 Conference, Finding shared approaches to assess, enable and accelerate impact on society, in Ottawa from June 14-15, 2018!

This year’s conference will bring together experts such as R&D evaluators, research councils, policy makers, funders, and other stakeholders of impact with the goal of sharing, evaluating and discussing best practices in science policy from around the world.

Speakers include Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Christine Trauttmansdorf, VP Government Relations and Canadian Partnership, CICan; and Pari Johnston, VP Policy and Public Affairs, Universities Canada.

CICan is proud to support this exciting conference on the societal impact of science. For more information and to register, click here.

Wear It Smart 2018: Smart Workwear for a Safe Workforce

Apparel Research and Innovation Centre Vestechpro is pleased to present the latest edition of Wear It Smart, a Montreal event about smart garments and accessories on May 10, 2018. This year’s symposium will focus on how to better ensure worker safety through the use of workwear and industrial wearables.

Join 200 human resources and occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals; purchasers; OHS solutions providers; professors; and researchers at the symposium and be sure to take in exciting presentations by Canadian and international researchers and entrepreneurs!

For more information or to register, click here.

As a CICan member, you are eligible for a 10% discount on registration. Contact Anne-Marie Robert at to receive your discount code!

Take part in a Canada Foundation for Innovation webinar

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is pleased to be offering a webinar series to help colleges and institutes prepare proposals for funding through CFI’s College-Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF). The first stream of webinars will offer a historical perspective on CIIF submissions and focus on the most common pitfalls applicants should avoid in their proposals.

To register for one of the sessions, please use the following links by April 5:

CIIF is intended to support substantial research infrastructure projects that will augment the existing applied research and technology development capacity of colleges and institutes, and allow them to respond to important sector industry needs. Please note that CIIF stream 1 proposals are due by May 15, 2018.

Webinar: Building the Car of the Future - Demonstrating College and Institute Capability

Canada has a strong automotive sector and is uniquely positioned to design and build the Car of the Futurewith strengths in key areas such as powertrain, emissions, batteries, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, advanced materials and lightweighting. Unfortunately, Canadian capabilities are not well known on the global stage and increased information sharing could improve opportunities for collaboration with industry, both inside and outside Canada.

The Automotive, Transportation and Digital Technologies Branch (ATDTB) at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) would like to collaborate with colleges and institutes across Canada to increase the visibility of Canadian innovation and showcase global automotive-related capabilities. This webinar will inform CICan members on how to participate in the ATDTB study and showcase their training and applied research capabilities.

This is an excellent opportunity for colleges and institutes to position themselves with an industry and its value chain.

Please register by sending your name, email and institution to Anne-Marie Robert at: before April 10, 2018.

Join the webinar on Thursday, April 12 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm via Skype here.

Webinar: 100 Career Options to Ignite Your Students’ Futures

Did you miss our webinar about the many opportunities that can spark you students’ interest in starting a career with the Canadian Armed Forces during and after their studies?

On Wednesday, February 28th we had a live webinar on full and part-time opportunities in over 100 trades available for your students. If you missed it, don’t worry, we have the recording right here.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that the Cégep Limoilou has a partnership with the Maison Ste-Ursule in Old Quebec City to provide a week-long total-immersion experience for students in Hotel Management? In March, for the second year in a row, the students took over operations of the hotel including sales and promotion, budgeting and purchasing, and website operations! Read more here.


Centennial College is pleased to welcome a new Registrar. Currently Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions at Durham College, Lisa White will join Centennial College effective April 9.


Conference 2018

Registration for CICan’s 2018 Conference is currently open. Click here for more information and to register.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.