Canada’s government invests in advanced manufacturing and other clusters

20 February 2023 | Muriel Cozier

Innovation Clusters are supported to strengthen Canada’s position as a global innovation leader.

Canada’s government is investing more than C$700 million to fund its Global Innovation Clusters programme, which is aimed at spurring economic growth and growing the country’s competitive advantage by investing in ideas, businesses and communities.

The money will be divided between five clusters, with the Advanced Manufacturing Cluster, based in Ontario, receiving the largest share of up to C$177 million. This cluster is focused on building next-generation manufacturing capabilities such as advanced robotics and 3D printing.

The overall aim, the government said, is to ‘position Canadian companies to lead industrial digitalisation.’ Work programmes in this cluster will include the strengthening and scale-up of SMEs, and adapting advanced technologies to transform existing manufacturing processes. The government puts the economic impact of this cluster, over ten years, at more than C$13.5 billion, with more than 13,500 new jobs in the same period.

The Protein Cluster will receive up to C$150 million, the second largest share of funding. Based in Canada’s Prairie Provinces, this cluster focuses on increasing the value of key Canadian crops, and serving growing markets in North America, Asia, and Europe for plant-based meat alternatives and new food products.

Programmes in the Protein Cluster include improving seed protein quality and yield, and advancing novel process technology to advance the processing of crops. The government anticipates that over a 10-year period some 4,500 jobs could be created in this cluster.

The other clusters, each receiving up to C$125 million in funding, are: Digital Technology, Scale AI, and the Ocean Cluster.

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry said: ‘Since their implementation, the clusters have had positive impacts by fostering collaboration across Canada’s innovation ecosystem, supporting hundreds of groundbreaking projects and creating thousands of well-paying jobs. Our government will continue to double down on spurring innovation and strengthen Canada’s position as a global innovation leader.’

In a separate development, Canada’s government has established an innovation agency to ‘drive Canadian business investment in R&D and foster economic growth.’ The Canada Innovation Corporation (CIC) will operate with an initial budget of C$2.6 billion over four years, and is set to become operational before the end of 2023.

The Blueprint for the Canada Innovation Corporation states: ‘Canadian businesses do not invest in R&D to the same level as their global peers. This has resulted in their reduced capacity for turning new ideas and inventions into globally competitive products and processes, and challenges in creating and protecting intangible assets such as intellectual property. Too often, this means new opportunities for growth move elsewhere.’

The government added that the CIC will be accountable to parliament, but will operate independently from the government on a day-to-day basis.

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