Centre of Excellence for Agriculture
On May 6, 2016 an event co-hosted by the Town of Lincoln and Niagara College was held with key participation from VRIC, Brock, OMAFRA as well as the technology and industry itself entitled “The Road to Defining a Centre of Excellence for Agriculture & Food serving the sector in Niagara and beyond.”
The conversation was about the broader industry and region as well as how we work cross-disciplinary, cross-industry and cross-boundary. Based on the pretext of a statement made by Richard Florida that stated that “Niagara has an economic locational quotient for agriculture and food of 6.3 – this means an economic capacity from this sector that is 630% higher than average. While there are significant economic successes in the sector, it is doubtful that the sector is consistently and comprehensively performing at its potential. However, there is much work being done: both toward realizing it through actions and investments, and, to determine gaps and barriers to reach that potential.”
Additionally, there were several other drivers which included;
- Premier Wynne’s Jobs Challenge in the Agri-food sector – 120,000 net new jobs by 2020;
- The Province has identified its “Cluster Strategy” as a way of organizing for future economic prosperity, yet it is vague on how that will develop in specific parts of the province;
- The work of groups like Food & Beverage Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe Food & Farming Alliance has identified key gaps in how to better support a sector that has significant future economic development potential for Ontario – in food processing, technological applications for a more productive and globally competitive sector, and in terms of greater vertical integration of, and collaboration within, the sector in Ontario;
- Locally, the Town of Lincoln has identified itself as a “Centre of Excellence for Agriculture”, with specific reference on horticulture, and;
- The network effectively exists in Niagara and in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, albeit in a loosely affiliated (and, historically, a competitive) fashion.
The goals of the session were to share information from key players within the sector and to begin a dialogue and process with the aim of determining key ingredients to a successful Centre of Excellence.
Presentations and a facilitated discussion made up the day and these are shared below along with biographies of those who gave presentations.