This is the end of my first six weeks at Protein Industries Canada. I thought this was a good time to provide an update on the organization’s activities, as well as our thoughts on priorities for the next few months.
We have been focusing on three main activities: stakeholder engagement, building the organization framework and interaction with the Federal Government.
- We have had the opportunity to meet several of our private sector members to learn about their operations and discuss how PIC’s initiatives may help them to achieve their business goals.
- We met with several post-secondary academic institutions to understand their role in science and innovation, and explore how we can work together in relation to to knowledge, skills and training. Talent development through knowledge, skills and training is an overarching goal of the Innovation Supercluster Initiative, to ensure we have the future workforce required to support the growing plant-based protein industry.
- Finally, we have connected with several not-for-profit corporations and industry associations about their roles in executing PIC’s strategic plan.
Building the organizational framework
- Building an organization from the ground up requires a lot of behind the scenes activities, including the development of bylaws and agreements and an organizational structure, as well as securing office space, developing job descriptions and standard operations such as banking, payroll, IT services, policies and procedures. This work is not always the most exciting, but it builds the critical foundation for delivering the mandate given to us by ISED and the Board of Directors over the coming years.
- We are reviewing candidates for the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and an Executive Assistant. We will be looking to announce an interim Chief Technology Officer soon.
Interaction with the Federal Government
- It was great to announce the official signing of the Contribution Agreement at Mera Foods on November 13th. See our news release for further details. On both sides of that announcement, we spent a significant amount of time engaging the with the Federal Government on areas related to the final negotiation of the Contribution Agreement, budgeting, intellectual property and data management, as well as administrative funding requests to support our start-up activities to the end of March 2019.
- All supercluster management teams were in Montreal November 19-20 to discuss the financial management framework and key performance indicators. This was a great opportunity to learn from each other regarding operational and administrative procedures.
As we look ahead to the next six months, our priorities include stakeholder engagement, operationalizing our project selection process, and staffing.
- As a member-based organization, stakeholder engagement will always be a priority. We intend to keep the dialogue going with our members about the role of PIC and how we work together to invest in growing the plant protein sector.
- In the new year we plan to host regionally-based priority setting workshops that map to the four strategic pillars of Create, Grow, Make and Sell. Our objective with these sessions is to bring together industry and academia to explore the biggest challenges and opportunities across the pillars; but more importantly, to identify project opportunities that can be led by consortia of our members.
- We are in the final stages of establishing our membership application process and hope to launch the membership drive early in the new year.
- As stated, stakeholder engagement is – and always will be – a priority for PIC. If you are a potential PIC member and would like to engage in a discussion, please let us know.
Operationalizing our project selection process
- The Innovation Supercluster Initiative is a five-year program. We are about three-quarters through year one. To achieve the level of influence we want to have in the development of the Canadian plant protein market, we need to execute the funding of both pre-commercialization research, as well as research and innovation projects with our member organizations. Getting PIC from where we are today to accepting proposals for consideration is a major priority for the organization. This will include:
- Finalizing our project evaluation criteria and issuing application forms for both Expressions of Interest and Full Applications
- Drafting and completing legal agreements for project funding
- Selecting subject matter experts for the Independent Review Committee who will be responsible for reviewing and approving project applications
- Finalizing Intellectual Property and Data Management strategies and processes
- We are really looking forward to building out our PIC team. We are currently reviewing candidates for senior leadership roles and are working to define our resource needs for front-line regional staff who will be the “boots on the ground” for this pan-prairie supercluster.
- Please stay tuned to the PIC website where new job opportunities will be posted. We are nothing without the right team of people to deliver this important mandate!
Thanks to everyone I’ve spoken to over the last six weeks. It is truly an honour to be a part of this initiative and I look forward to engaging in many more conversations over the years to come.
Chief Executive Officer