Loading articles...

Local supercluster tech groups share in up to $950M in federal funds

Last Updated Feb 15, 2018 at 3:08 pm EDT

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains takes part in a technology event in Ottawa on May 8, 2017. The Liberal government gave $35 million to a chemical company that makes plastic resins just one day before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to use Canada's G7 presidency to get other nations to commit to reducing or phasing out single-use plastics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A big boost for the City of Kitchener, and the Toronto-Waterloo Region tech corridor.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains has named five technology groups that will each get a piece of up to $950 million in what the government calls its “superclusters” initiative, a high-tech collaboration strategy aimed at fostering growth and creating jobs.

  • The Ocean supercluster based in Atlantic Canada will use innovation to improve competitiveness in Canada’s ocean-based industries, including fisheries, oil and gas and clean energy;
  • The Scale AI supercluster in Quebec will work on building intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics;
  • The Advanced Manufacturing supercluster in Ontario will connect technology strengths to manufacturing industry to prepare for the economy of tomorrow;
  • The Protein Industries supercluster in the Prairies will work on making the country a leading source of plant proteins;
  • The Digital Technology supercluster in British Columbia will use big data and digital technologies to unlock new potential in important sectors like health care, forestry, and manufacturing.

Kitchener and all of Waterloo Region will benefit from two of the proposals, which both include the University of Waterloo as a key partner –

  • NGM Canada – driving collaboration between the technology and manufacturing sectors using the Internet of Things, big data, sensors and intelligent machines.
  • SCALE.AI – defining a new, AI-powered global supply chain platform to make a profound impact in the retail, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.

In a release, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic thanks the feds and our local MP’s for their support in this development.

“The involvement of local companies and partners like the University of Waterloo in these two successful supercluster applications will see some of Waterloo region’s best researchers, innovators and companies become key contributors in growing these two areas that are so critical for both our community’s and our country’s economic future.”

Vrbanovic tells 570 NEWS that the local applications could receive about $230-million of the $950 fund – but he’s not sure how many local jobs it will create.

The supercluster concept is designed to bring together small, medium-sized and large companies, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations to generate forward-looking, job-creating ideas and innovation.

“What is a supercluster? It is a made-in-Canada Silicon Valley that will create tens of thousands of jobs — that’s what a supercluster is,” Bains said Thursday as he unveiled the winners in Ottawa.

“It’s about collaboration as well. Look at this room — we have academia, business, you have small business and large business, and we have government — working together, promoting collaboration, supporting our supply chains and also developing and nurturing skills and knowledge and making sure that we pass that knowledge from one generation to another.

“Superclusters — it’s a job magnet.”

The government is planning on not only a stronger, innovation-driven economy as a result of the initiative, but at least more than 50,000 jobs, he added.

Thursday’s announcement ends a nine-month contest central to the Liberals’ so-called innovation agenda.

Last fall, the government narrowed a field of about 50 applicants to nine finalists.

The money will be distributed over five years to the winners, which will be required to match the federal funding they receive, dollar for dollar.

The Liberals faced criticism over its plan, including concerns over the government picking winners and losers, but Bains defended it by saying the superclusters will be led by industry.

The government hopes the leverage from its $950-million commitment will help unlock business investment in research and development as a way to lift the economy.