Marilou Cyr, lasting inspiration

Marilou Cyr, l’inspiration durable

Lasting inspiration

In July 2014, the town of L'Assomption was the epicenter of a devastating earthquake. The closure of Electrolux, the Swedish household appliance manufacturing factory, wiped out nearly 1,300 jobs in this town of 22,400 inhabitants. How to recover after such a cataclysm in this region of Lanaudière, 90% of which is agricultural? Ask Marilou Cyr.

For a little over two years, with the support and cooperation of the MRC de L'Assomption and Écotech Québec , this energetic and go-getting 35-year-old young woman has given herself the mission of backfilling over 15 km 2 , the fissure which had cracked the social and economic fabric between Repentigny and L'Assomption.

Well aware that the success of agricultural companies will require the appropriation and application of technologies that will emphasize sustainable development, Marilou took the management of the Agtech Zone . It is the very first zone of innovation, research, training, technology transfer and creation of firms dedicated to the agricultural technology sectors.

It is no coincidence that Marilou Cyr finds herself at the helm. Daughter of parents who were both agronomists, the director of the Agtech Zone worked for a dozen years with her father who owned a company providing innovative solutions for the agricultural sector in the Lanaudière region. For example, they were the first in Quebec to work on a second generation cellulosic methanol project using corn residue. Marilou also worked as an associate in the field of strategic business development.

Thanks to expected investments of $220 million, the Agtech Zone aims, within five years, to establish around a hundred companies which will devote themselves to the development of new cultivation technologies both in greenhouses and vertically, field agriculture and plant bioproducts. Welcome to the world of agriculture 4.0!

In addition to aspiring to create some 2,600 jobs, the project which was officially launched in February 2020 will allow agricultural producers to benefit from more efficient, more profitable, greener and better adapted to climate change and security solutions. eating. Should we remember that last year, the region experienced around fifteen periods of freezing and thawing during the winter, and six periods of heatwave during the summer?

We are already working on a project for intelligent energy control in greenhouses in order to increase their energy efficiency. Another project seeks to ensure vertical cultivation in a 100% controlled environment with artificial lighting. Still others are working on the development of an autonomous and intelligent tractor to alleviate the labor shortage, on precision agriculture to reduce the level of pesticides, on improving soil health, or even water treatment by plants. All this, also from the perspective of exporting this knowledge.

“To accelerate the development of innovation and stimulate greater synergy, we are bringing together in the same sector large companies, start-ups and research funds for innovation mainly in new clean technologies. By connecting the different players in the industry, we ensure that our companies and agricultural producers have access to the best practices and the best information to be able to develop their technologies and implement them on the farm. »

The Electrolux site has already been decontaminated and the construction of the first developments on the 800,000 square feet of land to be developed will begin in spring 2021. To date, the Agtech Zone supports around fifty companies which could well settle there. install.

Currently, the Agtech Zone offers innovation programs and acceleration and financing paths for businesses in the agricultural sector. Starting in January, due to the pandemic, training will be offered on best agricultural practices to reduce the impact of climate change on the farm.

Marilou does all this with great determination. She of course has the good of our businesses and farmers at heart, but she has an even more personal reason. She is particularly motivated by the well-being and future of her child born just three years ago.

Is there any nobler inspiration?

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