The Government of Canada has officially released its ‘short list’ of innovation consortiums to potentially receive funding through the Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI). Currently, nine research and innovation partnerships have been announced and will move onto the second stage of funding applications. Up to five of these groups will access Canadian government funding through the program, which offers qualified consortiums with up to $125M-$250M in innovation grants.
The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is one of Canada’s most ambitious government funding programs ever created. The program will provide up to $950M in grants for research and development partnerships comprised of for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, and post-secondary institutions across the country. The intended result is to develop dynamic economic clusters that promote innovation and support long-term international competitiveness among Canadian firms.
During the first round of applications, businesses were invited to develop industry-led consortiums that included a minimum of five organizations. This included large, medium, and small companies, as well as at least one university, college, or polytechnic. Shortlisted consortiums are required to build on this network to include a minimum of 11 partners.
This is an opportunity for those who did not apply or were not accepted in the first round, as opportunities may exist to join a shortlisted cluster.
ISI Funding for Innovation: Shortlisted Consortiums
Each of the nine superclusters chosen to move onto the next round of applications are unique in focus and will stand to greatly improve business competitiveness in Canada. Each supercluster contains a mix of for-profit companies, post-secondary institutions, and other partners.
Of the 50 superclusters who originally applied for the innovation fund, the following nine have been shortlisted. Five of these superclusters will go on to receive between $125M and $250M to commit towards cluster expansion and development projects.
Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster (Southwestern Ontario)
Based in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, the Advanced Manufacturing supercluster aims to improve manufacturing inefficiencies and speed up adoption of technology by building an industry 4.0 ecosystem. Innovation partners include automotive parts manufacturer Linamar Corp., Maple Leaf Foods Inc., software innovator Miovision Technologies Inc., the MaRS Discovery District and the University of Waterloo.
Ocean Supercluster (Atlantic Canada)
Atlantic Canada’s Ocean supercluster will seek to maximize the economic potential of Canada’s ocean economy by investing in digital ocean technologies in aquaculture, capture fishery, offshore oil and gas, and clean energy sectors. It’s led by Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, and includes over 25 firms, such as Emera Inc., Clearwater, Aspin Kemp & Associates, radient360, and Dalhousie University.
Proteins Innovations Supercluster (Saskatchewan)
The Saskatchewan-based Proteins Innovations supercluster will seek to capture the massive export market opportunity for safe, nutritious, plant-based food and feed by collaborating on novel technologies and value-added supply-chain infrastructure. It’s led by Agrium Inc. and has received partner support from Regina’s Alliance Grain Traders Inc. and DowDuPont Inc., among others.
Artificial Intelligence Supply Chain Supercluster (Quebec)
Quebec’s Artificial Intelligence supercluster aims to define a new global supply chain platform and use AI to improve business processes, particularly in retail, manufacturing, and infrastructure. It could also bolster Canadian leadership in artificial intelligence and data science and empower Canada as a leading exporter. Members of this supercluster include Optel Group, BCE Inc., CGI Group, and Alimentation Couche-Tard.
Mobility Systems and Technologies for the 21st Century (Quebec)
The Mobility Systems and Technologies for the 21st Century supercluster could leverage digital technologies to advance Canadian industrial leadership in next-gen mobility products and services. Its focuses have been placed on innovation in aerospace, ground transportation, and advanced manufacturing. The consortium is led by CAE Inc., with more than 170 partner firms like Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp., UrtheCast Corp., Marinvent Corp., and Polytechnique Montreal.
Clean, Low-Energy, Engaged, and Remediated (Mining) Supercluster (Ontario)
Led by the Canada Mining Innovation Council, the Clean, Low-Energy, Engaged, and Remediated supercluster could transform Canada’s mining sector and position the country as a leader in clean resources and clean technology. It also plans to deal with global challenges like energy intensity, water use, and environmental footprints. More than 90 firms, including Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., Barrick Gold Corp., Teck Resources Ltd., Motion Metrics, and the University of British Columbia, will work on the project.
Smart Agri-Food Supercluster (Alberta)
The Smart Agri-Food supercluster wants to make Canada a preferred global supplier of sustainable high-quality safe food by creating information technologies platforms to add informatics, connectivity, and traceability for crop, livestock, and agri-food processing centres. Spearheaded by Calgary-based Agrium Inc., Telus, Farmers Edge, and Olds College.
Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Infrastructure Supercluster (Alberta)
If chosen in the final five, the Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Infrastructure supercluster will transform Canada’s built environment to make it more resilient, sustainable, productive, and cost-effective. It also pledges to revolutionize the design, construction, and operations of infrastructure while also fostering the use of advanced digital communications, cutting edge tools, and interconnected applications and services. Stantec Consulting Ltd. is leading the charge, along with more than 25 companies like PCL Construction Management Inc., Ledcor Group of Companies, Barry Johns Architecture Ltd., Athabasca University, and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Digital Technology Supercluster (British Columbia)
The Digital Technology supercluster maintains a specific focus in making the country faster, smarter and more collaborative while inventing, developing and applying digital technologies. The consortium plans to drive competitiveness across manufacturing, environmental, and resource technologies. It includes several British Columbia-based firms, as well as Telus, Timberwest Forest Corp., and six post-secondary institutions.
Next Steps for Shortlisted Innovation Superclusters
For those selected as part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative shortlist, another round of applications will be used to select the ‘final five’ groups. During this time, the shortlisted superclusters will have an opportunity to add new businesses, non-profits, industry organizations, and post-secondary institutions to their list of partners. This process will strengthen applications and show the wide-reaching impacts that the consortium could provide.
The second phase of Innovation Superclusters Initiative applications are due November 24, 2017.
Upon receiving the next round of applications, the Government of Canada will decide who will receive innovation fund support. Much of this round will look to see how many partners are included, how far the reach of the consortium spans, and how many jobs/economic benefits can be created.
Learn About the ‘Final Five’ Innovation Superclusters
When the final five superclusters have been chosen to receive ISI funding, tune into Mentor Works’ blog for a thorough analysis of each, including how each cluster plans to transform the economy. As one of the most significant and wide-reaching government funding programs offered to date, we’ll be covering this story as it progresses.
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