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Innovative Superclusters to Foster Economic Growth

The Government of Canada is investing C$950 million in five economic superclusters aimed at making the nation a world-leading center for innovation.

Location Canada 2018
Canada’s economy is strong and the fastest growing in the G7. Since our government was elected, over half a million full-time jobs have been created, and we have the lowest unemployment rate since 1976.

We’re considered one of the world’s best countries in which to do business — ranking fifth among Forbes’ best countries for business in 2018. And we have the world’s highest proportion of adults with a university degree — 55 percent compared with an OECD average of 35 percent.

I always say that Canada’s number one resource isn’t a natural resource; it’s our talent, our people. Take, for example, our world-class researchers:

We’ve got people like Jeff Dahn, who pioneered lithium-ion battery technology at Dalhousie University and is now working with Tesla to further his research. We’ve got Caroline Colijn, a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health at Simon Fraser University. Or the University of Alberta’s Richard Sutton, whose expertise in machine learning is helping transform Edmonton’s reputation from an energy and mining town to a high-tech hub.

Now combine that talent with our technical expertise and commercialization know-how, with the one million kids that our government is helping to teach to code so that they have the skills for the jobs of the future, and with our areas of industrial strength…If we do that, partnership, collaboration, and innovation will occur at a level that will literally transform the Canadian economy.

Canada’s economy is strong and the fastest growing in the G7. [In order to] make this transformation happen…we put forward the Innovation and Skills Plan to help Canadian innovators build global firms and create good-quality jobs. We [have] invested in new, cutting-edge programs and policies to make Canada the best place to develop and attract world-class talent, build new technologies, gain new customers, and receive capital to scale. At the center of this plan are superclusters, [which] are important because what they really mean is industry and good jobs.

Imagine an ecosystem where businesses of all sizes, academic and research institutions, as well as other innovation actors collaborate to make ideas grow. Being close together results in supply-chain benefits, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. It drives competition and attracts companies from around the world to invest in Canada.

As innovation hotbeds, superclusters develop new innovations and infrastructure, and they hire and cultivate a growing pool of talent. Superclusters are job-creators. Around the world you can find clusters in industries such as digital technology, medicine, and clean technology. So why not [in Canada]? We certainly have the talent.

Superclusters will contribute over $50 billion to our GDP and create an estimated minimum of 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years. We put a challenge to industry: “You are the experts, so you collaborate with schools, not-for-profits, and your competitors to come up with the best pitches for Canadian superclusters — la crème de la crème…We’ll commit up to $950 million to invest in your ideas, and you match it dollar for dollar.”

The response to the challenge was pretty impressive — more than 50 proposals from over 1,000 businesses with over 350 partners, including 100 academic institutions. And the ideas were really innovative. We carefully weighed the options and invited nine proposals with outstanding potential to accelerate economic growth to submit final applications.

Superclusters will contribute over $50 billion to our GDP and create an estimated minimum of 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years…As part of the deal, we expect superclusters to not just grow our economy but also advance Canadian values like diversity and gender equality.

Here [is the final list of the five]Canadian superclusters:
  • The Ocean Supercluster will use innovation to improve competitiveness in Canada’s ocean-based industries. This includes fisheries, oil and gas, and clean energy.
  • The SCALE.AI Supercluster will help Canada become a world-leading exporter. It will enable businesses to further develop in the areas of artificial intelligence and robotics.
  • The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster will connect Canada’s technology strengths to our manufacturing industry to make us a world manufacturing leader in the economy of tomorrow.
  • The Protein Industries Supercluster will make Canada the world’s leading source for plant proteins and help feed the world.
  • And the Digital Technology Supercluster will use big data and digital technologies to unlock new potential in important sectors like healthcare, forestry, and manufacturing.
This article was excerpted from a speech by Minister Bains to introduce the Superclusters in February 2018.
Canada’s Innovation Superclusters
Canada’s Innovation Superclusters
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