Feds to un­veil ‘su­per­clus­ter’ win­ners

Vic­tors to get slice of $950M fund­ing pie

Kingston Whig-Standard - - NATIONAL - ANDY BLATCH­FORD

OT­TAWA — The Trudeau gov­ern­ment is poised to un­veil the win­ners of a com­pe­ti­tion to form tech­nol­ogy “su­per­clus­ters” — a ti­tle that will guar­an­tee the vic­tors a piece of up to $950 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing.

Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment will close out a nine-month con­test cen­tral to the Lib­er­als’ so-called in­no­va­tion agenda. The project, which will name up to five gov­ern­ment-des­ig­nated su­per­clus­ters, was de­signed to en­cour­age academia and busi­nesses to work to­gether on strate­gies to boost fast-grow­ing sec­tors.

Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Navdeep Bains will an­nounce the win­ners at an event at the Canada Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Mu­seum.

Last fall, the gov­ern­ment nar­rowed a field of about 50 ap­pli­cants to nine fi­nal­ists that are made up of groups pitch­ing projects in many dif­fer­ent ar­eas, in­clud­ing ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and clean tech­nol­ogy.

The money will be dis­trib­uted over five years to the win­ners, which will have to match the fed­eral fund­ing they re­ceive, dol­lar for dol­lar.

Ot­tawa has faced some crit­i­cism over its plan, in­clud­ing con­cerns that it would see gov­ern­ment pick­ing win­ners and losers. But Bains has de­fended it by say­ing it will re­sult in the su­per­clus­ters be­ing led by in­dus­try.

The gov­ern­ment is hop­ing the lever­age from its $950-mil­lion com­mit­ment will help un­lock busi­ness in­vest­ment in re­search and de­vel­op­ment as a way to lift the econ­omy.

Bains has said he was look­ing for bids that would pro­mote re­search, cre­ate high-qual­ity jobs and fea­ture in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty strate­gies struc­tured to keep ben­e­fits for Canada.

Here’s a list of the fi­nal­ists, which rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try:

• AI-pow­ered sup­ply chains

su­per­clus­ter. The Que­bec-based pro­posal is fo­cused on defin­ing a global sup­ply-chain plat­form that will boost AI and data sci­ence in Canada, par­tic­u­larly in the re­tail, man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­fra­struc­ture sec­tors.

• Ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing

su­per­clus­ter. The goal of this On­tario-based bid is to drive col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the tech and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors — us­ing tech­nolo­gies like Big Data, in­tel­li­gent ma­chines and the so­called “in­ter­net of things” — to scale-up pro­duc­tion and im­prove ef­fi­ciency.

• Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy su­per­clus­ter. This British Co­lum­bia-based con­sor­tium aims to boost com­pet­i­tive­ness in pre­ci­sion health, man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­source and en­vi­ron­ment tech­nolo­gies by ad­vanc­ing data col­lec­tion, anal­y­sis and vi­su­al­iza­tion.

• Clean growth through min­ing

su­per­clus­ter. The bid prom­ises to make Canada a global leader in clean re­sources, clean tech and re­spon­si­ble sourc­ing of met­als by us­ing tech­nol­ogy to ad­dress is­sues such as en­ergy and water use. It’s based in On­tario, Que­bec and B.C.

• Mo­bil­ity sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies su­per­clus­ter. The pro­posal seeks to lever­age tech­nolo­gies to im­prove Canada’s lead­er­ship in mo­bil­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices. It will also fo­cus on serv­ing mar­ket needs in aero­space, ground trans­porta­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing. It’s based in Que­bec, On­tario, B.C. and At­lantic Canada.

• Ocean su­per­clus­ter. This

At­lantic Canada-based fi­nal­ist aims to max­i­mize the po­ten­tial and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the ocean econ­omy. It would in­vest in dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies for in­dus­tries such as aqua cul­ture, fish­eries, off­shore oil and gas and clean en­ergy.

• Pro­tein in­no­va­tions su­per­clus­ter. The Saskatchewan bid would har­ness tech­nolo­gies to help

Canada be­come the world leader in sup­ply­ing plant-based pro­teins and re­lated prod­ucts.

• Smart agri-food su­per­clus­ter.

The Al­berta-based ap­pli­cant has an ob­jec­tive to make Canada the pre­ferred global sup­plier of sus­tain­able, high-qual­ity, safe food. To get there, it would build in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies, such as data anal­y­sis and qual­ity con­trol plat­forms.

• Smart, sus­tain­able and re­silient in­fra­struc­ture su­per­clus­ter. This Al­berta fi­nal­ist pledges to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the de­sign, con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tions of in­fra­struc­ture to make Canada a leader in the use of ad­vanced dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­ter­con­nected ap­pli­ca­tions and ser­vices.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Navdeep Bains will an­nounce the win­ners Thurs­day of a com­pe­ti­tion to form tech­nol­ogy “su­per­clus­ters” — a prize that will guar­an­tee the cho­sen groups a piece of up to $950 mil­lion in fund­ing.

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