Canada’s Innovative High-Tech Sectors
Canada’s clean energy, ICT, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing sectors are clustered around seven vibrant metropolitan areas.
Mark Crawford (Location Canada 2013)
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Although the Waterloo, Ontario, Technology Triangle is best known for ICT, it is also a center for automotive manufacturing and research and development. The Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research at the University of Waterloo is one of Canada’s top automotive research centers. Employing more than 75 automotive researchers, the center represents the largest university-based automotive activity in Canada and works in partnership with automotive manufacturers and suppliers, including Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, which operates an assembly plant in Cambridge.
“Manufacturing is all about people, and I believe that we have some of the best people in the world right here in Ontario,” says Ray Tanguay, chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. “That is one reason we have been so successful.”
Canada’s 400-plus aerospace manufacturing and services companies have a worldwide reputation for quality, value, performance, and reliability. In 2011, Quebec exported nearly $7 billion worth of aerospace products, accounting for almost two-thirds of Canada’s total aerospace exports.
Montreal is Canada’s largest aerospace cluster and is well known for its expertise in aircraft fabrication and assembly, engine manufacturing, avionics, maintenance and repair, and landing gear. Major aerospace companies in Montreal include Bombardier Aerospace, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, and Pratt & Whitney Canada. Montreal is also home to more than 10 aerospace research centers, including the Canadian Space Agency and the Aerospace Manufacturing Technology Centre (AMTC) at the NRC Institute for Aerospace Research.
In March 2013 Bombardier Aerospace announced it plans to test-fly its new CSeries of aircraft this summer. Designed for the growing 100- to149-seat market, this new family of airplanes combines advanced materials and leading-edge technology, such as Pratt & Whitney’s new PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ engine, which recently achieved Transport Canada type certification and will power the CSeries aircraft. These planes will be up to 12,000 pounds lighter than other aircraft in the same seat category and provide passengers with a best-in-class, wide-body cabin environment. At the end of 2012, Bombardier had booked nearly 400 orders and commitments for the new line of aircraft.
“The CSeries is a game-changer in a changing economic environment,” says Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “Specifically adapted for airlines that want to increase the productivity of their aircraft, the extra capacity seating option allows us to offer the highest seating capacity in its market segment, with the best-in-class seat mile costs and comfort.”
Another major focus in today’s aerospace sector is composite manufacturing. Boeing, Magellan Aerospace, and Advanced Composite Structures all have operations in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with Boeing’s composite manufacturing facility the largest of its kind in North America. Winnipeg is also home to the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC), a public-private partnership that supports R&D for new composite materials and technologies for manufacturing industries. Researchers are investigating how agricultural fibers such as hemp and flax can be incorporated into composite materials to manufacture parts that are lighter weight, cheaper, and more sustainable to make. If successful, these “biofibers” could even replace fiberglass in engineered plastics. The CIC also plans to develop the first-ever grading system for biofibers, as well as develop a database for this information.
“It is essential to understand the quality of these biofibers to ensure consistency,” says Simon Potter, sector manager for product innovation at the CIC. Once the database is completed, CIC could become the leading biofiber-testing facility in the world.
And also in Manitoba, GE Aviation is expanding its $50 million, 122,000-square-foot cold-weather engine-testing facility in order to make it functional year-round. The “one of a kind” facility just opened in 2012 on the campus of Winnipeg’s international airport, which is located within the CentrePort footprint. (CentrePort is Winnipeg’s inland port.)