In what may be well be remembered as Canada’s first truly 21st century research and innovation Budget, the Liberal government has committed to investing more than $6.4 billion in scientific research, technology and business innovation assistance.
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.
Managing different organizations with varying interests and different sizes of financial commitment will require a change in culture for the companies and institutions engaged in the Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) competition. Governance and managing millions of dollars in government funds matched by industry are among the key challenges and risks ISI contenders will face, according to panelists at the recent Canadian Science Policy Conference
Almost a billion dollars in taxpayers’ funds are the carrot that the federal government hopes will bring industry and other stakeholders together to talk to each other and tap into each other’s resources to boost the Canadian economy through innovation. That’s the logic behind the $950-million Innovation Supercluster Initiative (ISI) which is heading into the final stretch of the two-phase selection process for between three and five winners.
Change is coming to the National Research Council (NRC) with plans to modify the ways in which it generates new knowledge and expertise for business. The 100-year-old agency is recalibrating to enhance its role in the national innovation agenda by placing greater emphasis on exploratory research in emerging fields, stepping up collaboration with higher education institutions and enhancing integration within the federal innovation ecosystem.
Geoff Hinton, Yoshua Bengio and Richard Sutton may not be household names but in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) these Canadian researchers are superstars at the forefront of a field that is attracting a host of marquee tech titans angling to gain competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving field. Yet many highly accomplished AI researchers have left Canada to seek opportunity elsewhere prompting a remarkable alignment of government, academia and industry to make Canada the go-to destination for AI advancements in an ever-expanding range of industry sectors.
The Advisory Council on Economic Growth (ACEG) has spurred an outpouring of interest and innovative activity for adding value and expanding global markets for Canada’s agricultural and agri-food sector, with a follow-up report urging the government to establish an Agri-Food Growth Council and inter-departmental task force to provide leadership and alignment.
One of the most anticipated competitions for S&T funding in recent memory has begun with the launch of the competition for $950 million in supercluster funding that will see up to five sectoral, knowledge-based initiatives selected to become future drivers of economic and job growth. Since its initial announcement in Budget 2016, groups in several areas — from agri-food to artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles – have formed to develop collaborative proposals that will now have an opportunity to compete for $950 million in funding between 2017 and 2022.
Quebec has come a long way in strengthening its knowledge capacity since the early days of the Quiet Revolution. The notion of investing in S&T for its economic, social and cultural development has always been central to its policy platforms irrespective of political party. The May 11 release of the 126-page Quebec Research and Innovation Strategy (SQRI) by Quebec premier Philippe Couillard signals a major shift by the province to aim much higher and up the province’s innovation game.