Feeding the World 2050

Niagara Region leads the way toward sustainable food futures

In this future scenario, the Greater Niagara Region has become a center for agricultural innovation and excellence. Local agricultural producers are working in tandem with agri-food entrepreneurs to add value to existing products and processes, creating new jobs and driving economic growth to the region, while contributing to a global sustainable food future. New partnerships are formed between Brock and Guleph Universities, the Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) and entrepreneurial hubs (such as Brock-Lincoln Living Lab), the agricultural industry and local municipalities. Through the formation of public-private partnerships and new financing options, entrepreneurs can gain access to the funding they need to work with agricultural producers to bring agri-expertise to new urban centers and explore novel solutions for feeding the cities of the world. Lincoln's first co-working studio is open for businesses after an old school is purchased and revitalized to make space for the in-flux of entrepreneurial talent and investment pouring into the region.

Cities incubate creativity and serve as labs for innovative ideas and policies. One such idea that’s gained popularity in cities around the world is the Innovation District. These districts are creative, energy-laden ecosystems with a focus on building partnerships across sectors. Innovation districts attract entrepreneurs, established companies, and leaders in all walks of life, and provide them with the space to create unexpected relationships and find transformative solutions.

Cities as far afield as Toronto, Singapore, and Barcelona have invested in Innovation Districts to solve new and complex problems, which demand increased collaboration to understand the latest trends, and address problems with solutions that are more and more frequently found at the boundaries between different fields.

It’s not all metropolises, though. Many small to medium sized cities have built vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems that can help them compete with large cities for talent and companies. Part of their strategy is to recruit “boomerang” workers who grew up in a small city, moved to a larger metro for college or a job, and many now return to raise families.

This strategy has worked well for the Town of Lincoln. In 2020 city officials converted unused office space into a new co-working facility, where their plan for a “Center for Agriculture Excellence and Innovation” really came to life. Students from Brock University, the University of Guelph and local agriculture experts work from the space through a series of partnerships that enable entrepreneurs of all experience levels take a shot at getting their company off the ground.

Whereas cities like Waterloo, Ont., have seen growth through new digital technologies and quantum computing, the Niagara region has leveraged its agricultural expertise to prototype solutions that will “help feed the cities of the future”, says Wendy Randelle Founder of Aquapontics. Randelle was still a student when she started her first farm. Aquapontics raises fish and plants together in an ecologically balanced system. The high-volume production of leafy greens, herbs, fruiting crops, and fish takes place in a recirculating system. The farms use a fraction of the water compared to traditional agriculture and can grow food continuously year-round.

This is just one of many examples of the agricultural innovation taking place in the Region of Niagara since making investments into building their Innovation District. Other activities include consulting with towns and urban centers across the country to enhance Canada’s food resilience as the countries weather becomes increasingly more unpredictable.  

2 thoughts on “Feeding the World 2050”

  1. Wow! I love the idea of a completely interdependent plant science and applied science venue could feed data to the Town of Lincoln driving policy related to manufacturing, tourism and specialized skills and education. But in order for us to even think about this we need to ensure that we are well governed. Well governed corporations perform better commercially and government in this scenario would have such a huge role to play in culture change and risk management with a large diverse group of stakeholders from all over the globe
    Common values will drive relationships in the future and culture maturity will become the greatest influence on desired outcomes.

  2. Paul MacPherson

    An interesting idea. Have started our ‘innovation’ effort with Spark Lincoln. Makes sense to expand with a focused theme based on all that Lincoln has to offer the under 35 age group.

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