Canadian Competitiveness, Cooperation, and the Promise of Convergence
While current innovation policy initiatives are implemented with strong focus, professionalism, and conviction, Canadian policy makers must continue to cast an eye forward to the longer term economic battlefront.
Unsuccessful supercluster proposals proceeding with partnerships, projects as they seek alternate government funding
The Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) has produced quite a number of unexpected winners, including those who are optimistic that there are other opportunities beyond the $950 million available for the program.
British Columbia has jumped into the science advice and advocacy arena by appointing a tech industry veteran – Dr. Alan Winter – in hopes of increasing the province’s share of federal innovation funding.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) is working with the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN) to offer the Next Generation Network Program (NGNP) to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Ontario government is contributing $63 million to the partnership, but with matching funds from the private sector, the total will rise to $115 million.
Superclusters: Success depends on far more than tech-focused innovation policy
The supercluster initiative marks a new and positive step in Canadian innovation policy. It is more than a research granting exercise. Instead, it is one that is designed to ensure a clear reaching out to all parts of the research ecosystem in industry, non-profit organizations, academia and government.
The federal government has selected five supercluster proposals that will share $950 million in funding for the next five years under the Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI).
Innovative Solutions Canada, a novel new government program that aims to boost R&D support for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMES) is being welcomed by players in the innovation ecosystem as many have long been clamouring for such an initiative.
A Senate report calls for a coordinated national strategy to ensure that Canada reaps the benefits from technologies underpinning automated and connected vehicles (AV/CV).
Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) has completed a comprehensive inventory of federal programs aimed at supporting business innovation and clean technology. The inventory captured 20 organizations and 92 program streams (business-facing programs), with the top five accounting for more than two-thirds of the $2.379 billion total.
The federal government has awarded $670,000 to the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA) to boost the hydrogen and fuel cell (HFC) sector’s global market activities. The funding is expected to help the Vancouver-based CHFCA develop and carry out marketing strategies and webinars to attract potential overseas clean technology investors, and eventually generate employment in western Canada. At present, the HFC sector contributes 2,000 knowledge-based, high-tech jobs to the economy. Creating strong market strategies for the HFC sector is in line with the CHFCA’s mission to support Canadian corporations, governments and educational institutions that are developing, demonstrating and deploying HFC products and services. The funding will enable the CHFCA to further the federal government’s priorities to support clean technology and innovation. Formed in January 2009 after the merger of the Canadian Hydrogen Association (CHA) and Hydrogen & Fuel Cells Canada (H2FCC), the CHFCA now represents the majority of stakeholders in Canada’s HFC sector.
The federal government is funding 21 projects across Canada in a program that will help develop the computer skills of the future in students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Funding will come from the $50-million CanCode program which is good for two years, starting 2017-18, and intended to equip up to one million students in coding and digital skills. Some 63,000 teachers will also be funded by the program as they are expected to incorporate the skills and technologies in their teaching. The program is intended to encourage more girls and Indigenous people and under-represented groups to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The funded projects are from Actua, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Canada Learning Code, Cybera Inc., Kids Code Jeunesse, Saskatoon Industry Education Council, ICTC, Brilliant Labs, TakingITGlobal, FIRST Robotics Canada, Let’s Talk Science, Grandir sans frontiers, Science North, The Learning Partnership, Pinnguaq, Ulnooweg Development Group, Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc., Fusion Jeunesse, Elephant Thoughts Educational Outreach, MediaSmarts and Science World.
Guelph ON-based Linamar Corp has received $49 million from the new Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) to develop its advanced manufacturing capabilities around artificial intelligence and 3D printing, and cleaner automotive technologies. The $1.26-billion fund was announced in Budget 2017 and bundles several existing programs to support a range of high-growth and innovative sectors – such as aerospace and defence, automotive firms, clean technology, information and communications technology, and agri-food. The fund supports R&D projects, expansion of firms, collaborative technology projects and activities that help companies attract large-scale investments. Linamar is the first project to be funded under the SIF, the government said. In addition to Linamar, another 11 automotive companies in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia were awarded a total of $41 million: Blue Solutions Canada Inc, Boucherville QC – $9 million for high-performance, low-cost lithium metal polymer for battery packs for smaller, more efficient passenger vehicles; SWITCH Materials Inc, Burnaby BC – $8.3 million for advanced glazing technology to help reduce vehicles’ gas emission; Nova Steel Inc, Woodstock ON – $7.5 million for second-generation advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) for a more efficient production plant; AGS Automotive Systems, Toronto, – $7 million for lighter composite materials for auto parts; Sciemetric Instruments Inc, Ottawa, – $2.9 million for efficient manufacturing processes; Bowman Precision Tooling, Brantford, ON – $2.7 million for a prototype of third-generation advanced high-strength steel “B” pillars for driver and passenger doors; Lakeside Plastics Ltd, Tecumseh, ON – $1.1 million to develop innovative new molding processes for lightweight, more environmentally-friendly materials; Marwood Metal Fabrication Ltd, Tillsonburg, ON – $953,500 to use carbon fibre in its production process; Abraham Innovation Systems Inc, Markham, ON – $701,669 to develop technology for inspecting and repairing painted vehicle bodies without human intervention; Synergx Technologies Inc, Laval, QC – $782,401 to create a non-contact 3D glass inspection; Meridian Lightweight Technologies Inc, Strathroy ON – $347,840 to build magnesium joints to replace existing steel shock towers to help reduce vehicle weight by up to 57%.
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is investing $1.78 million in Univ of Waterloo for a cybersecurity lab and to support research projects in cybersecurity and digital privacy. The fund will support projects in computer science, mathematics and the new cybersecurity lab for the financial sector in the William G Davis Computer Research Centre, as well as projects in data-driven software defined security, led by Raouf Boutaba; privacy enhancing technologies, led by Ian Goldberg; and post-quantum cryptography, led by David Jao. It will also support work around CryptoWorks21, an enhanced education program on post-quantum cryptosystems led by Waterloo’s Michele Mosca. RBC is funding projects in Waterloo to boost the skills needed by the cybersecurity industry. Working with a university allows the bank to gain access to its talent pool and leverage its unique capabilities in mathematical science.
CMC Microsystems has a new president and CEO with industry executive Gordon Harling assuming the post February 12. Harling joins CMC from Innotime Technologies, his latest startup, and brings with him more than three decades of working with industry and academia on microelectronics, microsystems and nanotechnologies in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. He is recognized in the industry for his contribution to microelectronics as a founder of several startups, helping raise funds for the startup community, consulting with investors and conducting R&D. Harling’s hands-on fabrication and manufacturing-oriented industry experience is seen as playing a major role in ensuring that Canada’s National Design Network, a key CMC initiative for leading-edge R&D in micro-nano technologies, continues to play its role in strengthening Canada’s innovation economy. Harling has a master’s degree from Polytechnique Montréal (MEng) and a bachelor’s degree in applied science from Univ of Toronto (BASc).
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) has named David Perry as chief talent officer to focus on developing Canada’s human resources leadership as part of CATA’s innovation agenda. A CEO of the boutique executive search and management consulting firm Perry-Martel International, Perry handled more than 1,000 projects and created an extensive personal network of leading CEOs and executives. This network has enabled him to find the most qualified candidates to help the client-firm grow and boost the shareholder value. A graduate of McGill Univ in 1982, Perry holds a BA in economics and industrial relations.
The Council of Canadian Academies has appointed David Castle, Sophie D’Amours, Malcolm King, Barbara Neis and Nicole Poirier to its scientific advisory committee. The committee advises the CCA’s board of directors on expert assessments, particularly on question selection and expert panel membership. Castle is VP research, and a professor in the School of Public Administration, with an adjunct appointment in the Gustavson School of Business at the Univ of Victoria. D’Amours is a faculty member at Univ Laval’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and became the first female and 26th university rector on April 26, 2017. King is a health researcher at Univ of Saskatchewan and scientific director of the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR). Neis, a John Paton Lewis distinguished university professor at Memorial Univ of Newfoundland, is with the Department of Sociology and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Poirier is president and founder of KoanTeknico Solutions Inc, which provides consulting services to the forest, maritime, environmental, and nanotechnology sectors. Susan McDaniel as chair, and Lorne Babiuk and Daniel Krewski as members have ended their terms on the committee. Eliot Phillipson assumes the role of committee chair.