Partnership and collaboration at the heart of Prairie Innovation Centre

A rendering of the inside of the future Prairie Innovation Centre shows more than a dozen people spread out through a room in what appears to be a reception-style networking event.

When Assiniboine Community College launched the Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture campaign in fall 2019, it was clear that the agriculture industry was at the heart of it—both because industry inspired the need and because industry support would be essential for the Centre to emerge.

“Partnership is foundational to a project like this, bringing with it the financial support we require to get the development off the ground and enhance the college’s ability to ultimately give back to and work with industry on what they need for the future,” said Derrick Turner, Director, Advancement and External Relations at Assiniboine.

The Prairie Innovation Centre will increase opportunities for students—the future agricultural workforce—to gain real-world professional experiences through additional engagement with community partners, furthering the college’s contribution to economic prosperity by way of applied research, work-integrated learning, and innovation.

The increase in student capacity— from the current 300 agricultural students to more than 800 when the Centre is fully operational—coupled with additional instructors and researchers will allow Assiniboine to increase our industry interaction. Some current research partners include the Vegetable Growers Association of Manitoba, the Prairie Fruit Growers Association, Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiative, Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative, and Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers.

Partnerships with those invested in the Centre will provide collaboration opportunities, helping identify innovative solutions and allow industry to keep up with advancements in agriculture.

“The Centre will be recognized as a go-to problem solver for ag-related practical challenges and will provide a space for industry and academia to seize new training opportunities,” said Tim Hore, Dean, School of Agriculture and Environment.

We look forward to extending and transferring knowledge to enhance the competitiveness of the industry and primary agriculture producers in Manitoba.

And that’s really the purpose of the Centre¾to ensure both students and the agriculture industry are set for success.

To enhance learning and increase success, students are often partnered with industry to discuss an issue. They are then tasked to design and implement a project to address that industry gap. One example of this dynamic is the Bee Aware sensor, a creation of two graduates’ final capstone project from the Communications Engineering Technology program. This wireless sensor network is installed inside bee hives, providing instant feedback to beekeepers regarding any movement or vibrations in the hives.

This is what Assiniboine is about, coming together for the good of the student and our partner—a collaborative vision for success.

A key piece of the vision for the Prairie Innovation Centre is the future Collaboration Zone within the facility, where education, innovation and connection meet. The college continues to engage Collaboration Zone partners who will have a high level of involvement in the Centre and the projects it pursues.

With more than $11 million already committed, the reality of the Prairie Innovation Centre is closer, built stronger every week by supporters who know the importance of what the Centre will bring to the agriculture industry and community.

“We know that the future of agriculture belongs here at Assiniboine. A big part of why that is and why it’s possible is the outstanding community support we have from community members and businesses, some of which may not even be directly associated with agriculture,” said Turner.

While many commitments have come from those directly involved or close to the sector, we’ve also seen remarkable support from local businesses, community members and organizations. This sort of support further instills that this is the right project, at the right time, in the right community.