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Innovators looking to get their ideas off the ground were in abundance in Regina this week during Canada’s Farm Show.

Some of those innovators in search of funding got a boost this week at the AgTech Accelerator Demo Day at the Farm Show.

Technology companies from Canada and around the world were there Wednesday, where they pitched their startups to potential investors in the audience.

But it hasn’t always been easy for budding entrepreneurs looking to turn innovative ideas into viable businesses that can stay in Saskatchewan over the long term.

Cultivator, powered by Conexus, is involved in backing the AgTech Accelerator program. They group describes itself as Canada’s first credit union-led business incubator.

Laura Mock, Cultivator’s director, joined guest host Tamara Cherry on The Evan Bray show Thursday to explain Cultivator’s role in helping startups in the province.

Mock said there are two sides to the business. The first is as a tech incubator, “with a mandate to grow the tech ecosystem in the province.”

The other side is the AgTech Accelerator.

“Through the AgTech Accelerator we work with ag tech founders from across Canada and the U.K. to help build their ag tech businesses,” she explained.

Mock said Cultivator fills a need, as the business landscape in Saskatchewan has typically been difficult for those looking to launch tech ideas into a startup. She said Cultivator began as an idea in 2018.

“At that point, if you were to look at all the money that’s being invested into the tech ecosystem, less than half of those investment dollars were coming into Saskatchewan,” Mock said.

She pointed to Skip the Dishes as an example of a great startup idea coming from Saskatchewan, but said the people behind it had to go to Manitoba to actually get the business off the ground.

“That’s what we kept seeing. These founders, in order to get their businesses off the ground, you’re going east, you’re going west, you’re having to cross borders,” said Mock. “We didn’t have the ecosystem to support founders.”

Mock pointed to the need for those founders to have other founders around – people who’ve gone ahead and built their technologies, and who understand the challenges.

“You need to have this community of like-minded founders to lift each other up, to help problem solve, to navigate, and to find strategic partnerships,” she said.

“That was missing in Saskatchewan.”

That prompted Conexus Credit Union to invest in the incubator to help ensure tech founders were staying in the province, along with the jobs and economic benefits that come with new businesses.

Mock is from Saskatchewan but is not from an agriculture background originally, and said she never thought she would be with a tech incubator.

She said Canada’s Farm Show demonstrated that Saskatchewan is a global leader in sustainable agricultural practices – something that would be of interest to the multitude of international participants coming to the show this year.

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