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Saskatoon: home to major agriculture players and transformative innovations

Saskatoon may be small in size, but it's mighty in impact — especially when it comes to the agriculture sector. The largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan is not only a global player in food production, it’s also leading the way in groundbreaking research and home to countless innovations. Read on to discover what makes Saskatoon a natural draw for the brightest minds in the industry, as well as a popular choice for global business events and conferences. 

A wealth of expertise 

There are a bunch of attributes that contribute to Saskatoon’s reputation as a leader in the agribusiness sector. To start, the city is home to an array of renowned organizations and research facilities that are driving the sector forward. In fact, there are over 300 agribusiness companies, which employ some 2,300 people. 

One of these acclaimed institutions is the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), which was founded in 2012 in partnership between Nutrien, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan (USask). GIFS works with a diverse range of partners to discover, develop and deliver innovative solutions for the production of globally sustainable food.  

“The food system is complex, and we are playing a role at the agricultural production end of it,” explains Steve Webb, the institute’s executive director and CEO. “We develop sustainable tools and technologies that can be used to enhance food production — for example, we’re helping produce more resilient and reliable seeds for producers in a way that’s economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Our strategic location within one of the world’s strongest agri-science ecosystems has been key to advancing this critical work.” 

Saskatoon is also home to the Canadian Light Source, Canda’s only synchrotron, which is located at the University of Saskatchewan. As one of the largest science projects in Canadian history, the Canadian Light Source is producing the brightest light in the country — millions of times brighter than the sun. Each year, the facility hosts scientists from around the globe who use this light to conduct groundbreaking research in areas like health, agricultural, environmental and advanced materials. 

When it comes to agriculture companies leading the way in the city, there’s Genome Prairie, a non-profit organization leading large-scale bioscience research projects in the province. In addition, Nutrien, the largest producer of potash and one of the largest producers of nitrogen and phosphate, provides the nutrients growers need to produce healthier, more abundant crops. 

Shaping the future of agriculture 

Over the years, Saskatoon has built a reputation as a world leader in crop science research and agritech. This is in large part thanks to the depth of expertise at USask, a globally recognized centre for agricultural science that’s home to world-leading researchers who work alongside local experts to solve the greatest challenge in food production.  

For instance, groundbreaking soil research at USask is harnessing the power of the Canadian Light Source to unleash new possibilities. Using chemical analysis and synchrotron techniques, the team looked at soil micronutrients in soil samples from Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, gaining new insight into how to improve fertilizer use and increase crop yields.   

Another landmark study at USask sequenced the genomes for 15 wheat varieties from around the world, enabling scientists and breeders to more quickly identify influential genes for improved yield, pest resistance and other important crop traits.  

Saskatoon research teams are constantly producing breakthroughs in crop genomics, protein processing and water management, which have been essential in feeding the future. Agribusiness has put Saskatoon on the world map by creating a central hub where successful innovation and collaboration has occurred, making this the perfect place to explore business events and investment.

Candace Shierling, director of business development of Tourism Saskatoon

World-class business events 

This expertise translates into exceptional business events and conferences — such as Ag in Motion, the largest agricultural trade show in western Canada that provides an outdoor venue for progressive farmers to learn about the largest agricultural innovations in one place. In 2019, Ag in Motion attracted 557 exhibitors and 30,500 attendees. The event takes place at the Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm — which, along with hosting agricultural events, has an applied-research site where field-scale trials produce results that make a real difference for farmers. 

“Ag in Motion provides a great opportunity for western Canada businesses to showcase their products and delivers countless opportunities for attendees to learn about new technology that have the potential to impact their farms in transformative ways,” says Rob O-Connor, show director for Ag In Motion. 

Other past successful agriculture events include the 1st Annual Wheat Congress, Rhizosphere 5 and the Agrifood Innovation Council Grain World Conference. Looking forward to 2022, Saskatoon will host the International Bison Convention, which is organized by the Canadian Bison Association, in partnership with Saskatchewan and the U.S. National Bison Associations. 

Meetings with purpose  

When organizations meet in Saskatoon, they can tap into the city’s vast depth of knowledge in a number of ways, such as augmenting speakers’ series with passionate industry innovators and enriching programming with localized tours. The result? Business event organizers can attract delegates, increase revenues and inspire future generations.   

“We call that 'meeting with purpose’,” says Schierling, pointing out that Saskatoon is poised to show off its thriving agribusiness sector and the local industry leaders who are fueling new discoveries. 

Along with strong scientific leadership, conference planners can also embrace the city’s vibrant arts scene and inventive cuisine to create memorable delegate experiences. Saskatoon also has an array of hotel, meeting and special event venues within a comfortable walk of each other.  

Easy to get around 

Saskatoon’s newly renovated and award-winning international airport is located only 10 minutes from the downtown core and provides direct or one-stop service to over 240 global destinations. Saskatoon is also home to a VIA Rail Canada station and is conveniently accessed by major highways. Getting around Saskatoon’s downtown couldn’t be easier, either. In fact, it’s known as a “three-song city,” which means that you can get anywhere in the city in just three tunes.  

For more information, visit Tourism Saskatoon. 

Wherever you hail from, you’ll feel the specialness of this land. Saskatoon is built on Treaty 6 Territory and The Homeland of The Metis. A traditional meeting ground, gathering place and travelling route to the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, Dene, and Nakota Sioux, this land is sacred. We acknowledge all the many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries in the past and the imprints we'll make together going forward. We pay our respect for this land of incredible beauty. As we reaffirm our relationship with one another and commit to building strong, lasting partnerships, we are so grateful for the sacrifices made by the Indigenous community. We give thanks for our opportunity to thrive on these traditional lands and know that you will feel at home here, too.