Three of Canada’s leading post-secondary agriculture institutions are teaming up for a one-of-a-kind training opportunity and competition this weekend at Lethbridge College. McDalBridge brings together students from McGill University, Dalhousie University and Lethbridge College to create innovative solutions to Canadian agricultural challenges. The event will take place from Sept. 20 to 22.
Funded by Farm Credit Canada, five students from each institution will gather for three days of instructional sessions, workshops and tours. The students will divide into five cross-institutional teams where they will use their diverse regional backgrounds to collaborate and provide solutions to agricultural issues, before presenting their early prototype pitches to a panel of industry experts on Sunday afternoon.
The program builds on Lethbridge College’s successful Agriculture Entrepreneur in Training (AgENT) extra-curricular program that allows students to work with industry mentors to produce solutions to agriculture industry challenges.
“Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario give us a great agricultural cross-section,” says Megan Shapka, Lethbridge College manager of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Each region has different crops, different industries and different agricultural methods. By combining their unique viewpoints, we hope the students are able to reach a new level of collaboration and create solutions they wouldn’t be able to on their own.”
Teams will work with industry mentors throughout the weekend, with a goal of creating a culture of creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and innovators. Students will be provided with industry challenges and are expected to design solutions that are sustainable and respond to community needs. The wrap-up showcase event will give local producers a chance to share their feedback individually with student teams.
“This cross-institutional collaboration is a tremendous opportunity for students,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Associate Vice President – Research at Lethbridge College. “It’s also a chance for our three institutions to work alongside each other, share ideas and position ourselves as innovators and leaders in Canada’s agricultural sector. I look forward to all of the ideas that are generated by this partnership.”
Farm Credit Canada has committed to McDalBridge as a two-year pilot project. Students will work in The Pivot, Lethbridge College’s newly created student entrepreneurship and innovation incubator space within the Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE). Students will also take part in a “plot hop” organized by Farming Smarter, and tour the college’s Aquaculture Centre of Excellence.
The Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region that brings together community organizations, researchers and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.
Members of the media are invited to speak with participants and organizers. Media are welcome at any time, but the best opportunities for both interviews and visuals are as students are meeting with industry mentors at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, or during the final solution pitches between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22. Media can confirm attendance in advance with Paul Kingsmith, or contact organizer Megan Shapka on the day-of at 403-715-1515.