Blog post | 08-04-2021 | Consulate General in Vancouver
Agriculture is the largest sector in Canada with a strong focus on horticulture. To get a feel for Dutch agricultural innovations in British Columbia, the Dutch Consulate General in Vancouver and the Dutch Embassy’s agricultural team spoke with several entrepreneurs.
In this 10-part blog series, we will be highlighting a leading innovative agtech company in British Columbia each week, with an emphasis on its close connection to the Netherlands.
Part 7 (7/10): AI systems
Founded by robotics entrepreneur Farhang Bidram and management consultant engineer Robert Vahedi, AIS provides autonomous robotic solutions for agriculture and forestry. “When we started our business, my business partner and I had recently moved to the west coast of Canada,” says Vahedi. “We assessed our new environment and noted the significant presence of the forestry and agricultural industries.” Focusing on automation that would eliminate labor shortages for repetitive and injury-prone tasks in these areas was a logical step.
A robot got the job
The duo developed BigTop; an autonomous spacer robot on wheels with a flat surface and long arms for picking up objects. For the specific purpose of moving and spacing plant pots in (greenhouse) nurseries, BigTop took five years to complete and was developed and manufactured in-house. Vahedi: “When finished, we applied for a vacant nursery worker position under the name BigTop, and our robot got the job immediately.”
Expansion to artificial intelligence
AIS is working on other solutions that complement what humans do in the workspace. Vahedi: “There are worrying labor shortages in the agriculture industry and our robots can help fill this gap. The type of robots we make are collaborative. They interact with humans by providing operational data and doing physically demanding work. Having expanded to artificial intelligence solutions for the blueberry industry, Vahedi and Bidram are currently working on robotic solutions for forestry and agriculture.
Link with the Netherlands
- Dutch expatriate
Robert Vahedi is co-founder of AIS and a Dutch expatriate of Iranian origin.
- Dutch partnerships
AIS works with several Dutch companies to establish European distribution and first customers for its products.
Want to know more about the collaboration between the Dutch and Canadians in British Columbia?
In the brochure, which you can download below, you will find a number of examples of innovative companies in British Columbia, with close ties to the Netherlands. We hope to see many more of these strong collaborations and are keen to support more innovators.
If you would like to know more, please contact the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vancouver at [email protected] or contact the Economic Affairs teams in Ottawa and Toronto.