The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan outlines his vision for PacifiCan and announces $11.8 million in federal support for local innovators

News release

Surrey's innovation ecosystem to get an economic boost

Address with Surrey Board of Trade highlights region’s economic strengths and lays out PacifiCan’s priorities.

April 1, 2022 – Surrey, British Columbia – Pacific Economic Development Canada

As one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, Surrey plays an important role in British Columbia’s economic development and post-pandemic recovery.

Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), addressed the Surrey Board of Trade. The Minister shared his vision of how PacifiCan will work with British Columbians to drive economic development in communities like Surrey and throughout British Columbia.

As a new federal agency dedicated to British Columbia, PacifiCan will be a long-term partner in British Columbians’ economic success. Throughout the coming year, PacifiCan will expand its on-the-ground presence beyond its existing office in Vancouver. This includes a new headquarters in Surrey with enhanced service to the Fraser Valley, and staff in Campbell River, Cranbrook, Fort St. John, Kelowna, Prince George, Prince Rupert and Victoria.

In his remarks, Minister Sajjan described how PacifiCan is resourced with $110 million a year to support economic development by investing in British Columbian businesses and communities and by helping British Columbians through advice, pathfinding, and convening. Minister Sajjan emphasized partnerships across governments, industry and community as key to enduring economic success.

Investing in British Columbia generates sustainable growth and nurtures regional innovation ecosystems. That is why Minister Sajjan announced $11.8 million in federal support for two innovation projects in Surrey today.

Two Simon Fraser University (SFU) projects are receiving PacifiCan support

Agtech Innovation Sandbox (AGIS)

SFU’s Agtech Innovation Sandbox (AGIS) is receiving $10 million over the next five years. The project will support post-pandemic recovery by helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) scale-up and commercialize agricultural technologies in British Columbia.

AGIS has successfully engaged and secured strong industry participation from at least 30 SMEs located in urban and rural areas of the province. This project will help accelerate product development, deliver training programs to develop local talent and address labour gaps, and establish a collaboration network. The initiative is expected to create more than 300 new jobs, transfer at least 20 technologies to market, and generate $13 million in business sales growth by 2026.

WearTech Labs

SFU core facility WearTech Labs is receiving $1.8 million to test and commercialize new wearable technology products that will improve proactive personal health management. The PacifiCan funding will support the design, construction, installation and operation of two additional labs. It is expected to create 40 new jobs and increase revenues by $25 million.

Regional innovation ecosystems are key to economic development in communities across Canada. They support businesses to innovate, grow and compete globally. These investments support value-added agriculture and clean technology sector priorities. They also develop technology clusters in the areas of health analytics and diagnostics, and contribute to economic recovery through the growth of emerging sectors.


“PacifiCan is committed to being a strong economic development partner with communities like Surrey, and today’s discussion with Surrey Board of Trade reflects that commitment. Investments like the ones announced today will help make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation and create enduring jobs for British Columbians.”

- The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

Investments like the ones announced today will help make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation and create enduring jobs for British Columbians.

- The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan

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“The Surrey Board of Trade, as Surrey’s city-building business organization that supports business through a diversified service portfolio, looks forward to working with PacifiCan to serve as key economic partners to drive the private sector forward in BC.”

- Anita Huberman, President and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade

“SFU is leading a team of innovators from academic institutions around British Columbia to help the province’s small and medium-sized enterprises scale-up and commercialize their agricultural technologies. We are also advancing wearables to help people make better-informed choices for their health. We are grateful for PacifiCan’s generous support as we continue to expand our capacity in research excellence to make a meaningful impact on the world through our innovations. Initiatives like these illustrate how universities can work with industry to support the post-pandemic recovery.

- Dugan O’Neil, Simon Fraser University’s Vice-President, Research and International 

Quick facts

  • PacifiCan is the regional development agency dedicated to British Columbia. PacifiCan promotes growth and diversification in British Columbia’s economy by enhancing innovation, improving business competitiveness, promoting the adoption of clean technologies and inclusive growth.

  • The Regional Innovation Ecosystems (RIE) program aims to create, grow and nurture inclusive regional ecosystems that support business needs throughout the innovation continuum, and foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and competitiveness.

  • In 2019, the B.C. agtech sector generated more than 4,000 jobs and produced $176M in exports.

  • According to the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Canada is the fifth-largest global exporter of agri-food products, generating 5.7% of the total value of world food and agriculture exports.

  • Global market projections for the wearable technologies sector are expected to reach $150 billion by 2026.

Associated links


Haley Hodgson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development

Ben Letts
Communications Manager
Pacific Economic Development Canada

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