Set­ting Global Bench­marks in Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing

Policy - - In This Issue - Jayson My­ers

Canada’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor rep­re­sents more than 10 per cent of the country’s to­tal GDP. Man­u­fac­tur­ers ex­port more than $354 bil­lion each year, rep­re­sent­ing 68 per cent of all of Canada’s mer­chan­dise ex­ports. So, it was no sur­prise that one of the su­per­clus­ter winners is a man­u­fac­tur­ing group. As Next Gen­er­a­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ing Canada’s CEO, Jayson My­ers, writes, in­no­va­tion in man­u­fac­tur­ing means both adopt­ing and adapt­ing.

Stretch­ing from Wind­sor to Quebec City, Canada’s in­no­va­tion cor­ri­dor is home to some of the best re­search, tech­nolo­gies and man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the world. The re­gion boasts a glob­ally ranked startup ecosys­tem in the Toronto-Water­loo Cor­ri­dor, a di­verse and con­cen­trated man­u­fac­tur­ing base, many lead­ing tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, a highly skilled work­force, world-class re­search and ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties and a re­mark­able en­tre­pre­neur­ial dy­namic. Imag­ine the eco­nomic pow­er­house it would be if we could com­bine these as­sets more ef­fec­tively, ap­ply­ing more ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies to im­prove the com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth po­ten­tial of our

man­u­fac­tur­ers and scal­ing up more tech­nolo­gies to ap­ply and man­u­fac­ture them in Canada.

Next Gen­er­a­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ing Canada, the in­dus­try-led, not-for­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion estab­lished to lead Canada’s Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter ini­tia­tive, aims to do just that. We be­lieve the trans­for­ma­tion to ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing will en­rich all our lives, de­liv­er­ing bet­ter prod­ucts and good jobs while gen­er­at­ing the eco­nomic growth that is es­sen­tial to build­ing a bet­ter world. Our goal by 2025 is to see Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers set­ting world bench­marks in com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth through the ap­pli­ca­tion and pro­duc­tion of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

In order to turn this vi­sion into re­al­ity, Canada’s man­u­fac­tur­ers and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies must be able to of­fer glob­ally com­pet­i­tive so­lu­tions to cus­tomers around the world. Man­u­fac­tur­ers will need to speed up the adop­tion of ad­vanced dig­i­tal, ma­te­ri­als and pro­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies to man­u­fac­ture new prod­ucts, pro­vide new ser­vices, op­ti­mize pro­duc­tion pro­cesses, im­prove op­er­at­ing ef­fi­cien­cies and de­velop new rev­enue op­por­tu­ni­ties. Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies will need to scale up pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties more quickly as well. More of the tech­nolo­gies de­vel­oped in Canada will need to be ap­plied and pro­duced in Canada. And, com­pa­nies will have to at­tract and re­tain the highly-qual­i­fied peo­ple, capital in­vest­ments and prod­uct man­dates they need in order to sus­tain growth.

Fed­eral su­per­clus­ter fund­ing will kick­start our ef­forts in pro­mot­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion across the many com­pa­nies, aca­demic and re­search in­sti­tu­tions, busi­ness net­works, and gov­ern­ment agen­cies and pro­grams that make up Canada’s ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing ecosys­tem while build­ing greater ca­pac­ity among smaller com­pa­nies to adopt and scale-up ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. It will en­able us to ad­dress some of the most im­por­tant chal­lenges in­hibit­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth of Canada’s man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­nol­ogy sec­tors. The first chal­lenge is sim­ply to in­crease visibility. We do great things here. But, who re­ally knows what we do? Many of the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and as­sets within our ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing ecosys­tem are among the best-kept se­crets in Canada. NGM Canada will build an on­line col­lab­o­ra­tion plat­form that will iden­tify tech­nol­ogy ca­pa­bil­i­ties, map out the as­sets in our re­search and train­ing in­fra­struc­ture and al­low com­pa­nies to con­nect more eas­ily with the re­sources that can help them adopt and scale-up ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. We will also sup­port net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and col­li­sion events de­signed to bring peo­ple to­gether and bridge the soli­tudes that ex­ist be­tween man­u­fac­tur­ers that have busi­ness prob­lems to solve and tech­nol­ogy providers that can of­fer po­ten­tial so­lu­tions.

The sec­ond chal­lenge is to im­prove upon our record in com­mer­cial­iz­ing and scal­ing up the tech­nolo­gies that are be­ing de­vel­oped here. That re­quires in­creas­ing aware­ness about the tech­nol­ogy ca­pa­bil­i­ties res­i­dent in Canada and their pos­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tions in man­u­fac­tur­ing. It also re­quires more ac­tive fa­cil­i­ta­tion of con­nec­tions be­tween small tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies on the one hand and the man­u­fac­tur­ers and pi­lot cen­tres on the other that can pro­vide the test­ing, process im­prove­ment and pro­duc­tion sup­port to take new tech­nolo­gies from pro­to­type to full scale man­u­fac­tura­bil­ity and build link­ages into in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing sup­ply chains. By fo­cus­ing our ef­forts on ex­pand­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion of new tech­nolo­gies in Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ing, NGM Canada is look­ing to build cus­tomer de­mand for Cana­dian tech­nolo­gies, ex­po­nen­tially ac­cel­er­ate busi­ness growth and en­hance the abil­ity of our tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to at­tract capital and tal­ent from around the world.

Re­al­iz­ing that ob­jec­tive de­pends in turn on ad­dress­ing a third chal­lenge—how to ac­cel­er­ate the adop­tion of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies by Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers, most of which are small com­pa­nies that of­ten lack the re­sources re­quired for ef­fec­tively ap­ply­ing new tools and tech­niques in their busi­ness. Man­u­fac­tur­ers in Canada cur­rently lag be­hind their coun­ter­parts in other in­dus­trial economies when it comes to in­vest­ing in re­search, train­ing and new tech­nolo­gies. In an era of in­tense global com­pe­ti­tion and the rapid de­vel­op­ment and de­ploy­ment of po­ten­tially dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies, the com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth po­ten­tial of Canada’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor is at risk, and along with it the value cre­at­ing po­ten­tial of a large part of the Cana­dian econ­omy.

Fed­eral su­per­clus­ter fund­ing will kick-start our ef­forts in pro­mot­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion across the many com­pa­nies, aca­demic and re­search in­sti­tu­tions, busi­ness net­works, and gov­ern­ment agen­cies and pro­grams that make up Canada’s ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing ecosys­tem while build­ing greater ca­pac­ity among smaller com­pa­nies to adopt and scale-up ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

That is why the su­per­clus­ter will pro­vide fund­ing to de­velop and de­liver a suite of tools and pro­grams de­signed to help man­u­fac­tur­ers iden­tify the po­ten­tial ad­van­tages of­fered by ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, the busi­ness re­quire­ments for suc­cess­fully ap­ply­ing and managing those tech­nolo­gies and avail­able op­tions for sourc­ing in­te­grated tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions. It will also pro­vide fund­ing sup­port for tech­nol­ogy au­dits, fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and ac­cess to mod­el­ing, test­ing, pi­lot, and train­ing cen­tres that will help man­u­fac­tur­ers de-risk the adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies.

While these ef­forts aim at en­hanc­ing cus­tomer de­mand and build­ing ca­pac­ity on the part of smaller compa-

nies to adopt and scale-up tech­nolo­gies in man­u­fac­tur­ing, the largest share of su­per­clus­ter fund­ing—ap­prox­i­mately $200 mil­lion—will be in­vested in in­dus­try-led col­lab­o­ra­tive projects de­signed to de­velop and strengthen Canada’s lead­er­ship in tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tur­ing. NGM Canada will in­vest in three types of col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tives:

1. Partnerships that aim to de­velop unique tech­nolo­gies that will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the abil­ity of in­vest­ing com­pa­nies to com­pete and grow in global mar­kets;

2. Partnerships that aim to trans­form ex­ist­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses through the adop­tion of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in order to im­prove the com­pet­i­tive­ness, in­no­va­tion and growth po­ten­tial of com­pa­nies in key sec­tors of Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ing, such as steel, auto parts, food pro­cess­ing, high-value wood prod­ucts and aerospace; and,

What a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity to align Canada’s pub­lic poli­cies and pro­grams, our re­search in­fra­struc­ture, and our ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pri­or­i­ties to in­dus­try needs.

3. Partnerships that aim to pro­mote the ap­pli­ca­tion and scale-up of brand new tech­nolo­gies for man­u­fac­tur­ing in Canada.

These ini­tia­tives will in­volve a va­ri­ety of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in­clud­ing dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tions, data an­a­lyt­ics, mi­cro­elec­tron­ics and sen­sors, In­ter­net-of-Things de­vices, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing, ro­bot­ics, vi­sion systems, ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als, and ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing. They will be led by the com­pa­nies that have to­gether com­mit­ted over $800 mil­lion to the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter. But, they will in­volve many more man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges, and re­search cen­tres in their ac­tiv­i­ties. Their pur­pose is to strengthen Canada’s ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing ecosys­tem, not only by pro­vid­ing match­ing funds for in­dus­try in­vest­ments but by cre­at­ing new col­lab­o­ra­tive knowl­edge and tech­nol­ogy sup­ply chains, grow­ing Cana­dian cus­tomers for new tech­nolo­gies de­vel­oped here, and build­ing en­tirely new man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties in Canada. Col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tives will be eval­u­ated and selected on the ba­sis of their tech­nol­ogy lead­er­ship, the ex­tent of the en­gage­ment they will gen­er­ate across the ecosys­tem, their con­tri­bu­tion to ed­u­ca­tion and work­force train­ing, and the ben­e­fits they prom­ise for the Cana­dian econ­omy as a whole. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates that the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter will gen­er­ate over $13.5 bil­lion in added eco­nomic value and cre­ate more than 13,500 jobs in Canada over the next ten years. We do not ex­pect to dis­ap­point. But, the sig­nif­i­cance of the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter for pub­lic pol­icy is much greater than the ground-break­ing tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tives it will sup­port and the eco­nomic ben­e­fits it is ex­pected to de­liver. It rep­re­sents a new ap­proach to in­no­va­tion and in­dus­trial pol­icy. It fo­cuses on build­ing in­dus­try de­mand for new tech­nolo­gies rather than push­ing tech­nolo­gies into the mar­ket place. It com­ple­ments the bil­lions of dol­lars in­vested an­nu­ally in ba­sic and ap­plied re­search with a sys­tem de­signed to draw knowl­edge and ex­per­tise from the lab­o­ra­tory bench to de­liver so­lu­tions that can be used in man­u­fac­tur­ing. It aims to fa­cil­i­tate the scale-up of tech­nolo­gies to a level of man­u­fac­tura­bil­ity, not sim­ply to li­cense them, but to ap­ply and pro­duce them in Canada. It pays at­ten­tion to the im­por­tance of de-risk­ing tech­nol­ogy adop­tion and scale-up. And, it makes a con­certed ef­fort to build col­lab­o­ra­tion and strengthen the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of small com­pa­nies to man­age the ap­pli­ca­tion and pro­duc­tion of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

The sig­nif­i­cant com­mit­ments that busi­nesses have made to the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter, not to men­tion the po­ten­tial in­vest­ments iden­ti­fied in other re­lated su­per­clus­ter pro­pos­als, in­di­cate the im­por­tance that in­dus­try across Canada at­taches to the de­vel­op­ment and adop­tion of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in man­u­fac­tur­ing—and in many other sec­tors of the econ­omy as well. What a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity to align Canada’s pub­lic poli­cies and pro­grams, our re­search in­fra­struc­ture, and our ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pri­or­i­ties to in­dus­try needs. The in­dus­try-led ini­tia­tives iden­ti­fied dur­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion process for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s su­per­clus­ter pro­gram should be a bea­con for gov­ern­ments, uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges, re­search in­sti­tutes, and busi­ness net­works look­ing to sup­port in­no­va­tion. Next Gen­er­a­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ing Canada sees that pol­icy lead­er­ship role as an im­por­tant el­e­ment of its man­date to po­si­tion Canada as a world leader in ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing, a man­date that will not end after the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter’s fiveyear fund­ing agree­ment ex­pires.

We have al­ready seen a sig­nif­i­cant amount of progress—even be­fore fund­ing has started to flow from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. A num­ber of com­pa­nies and sup­port­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions are now work­ing to­gether be­cause they be­came aware of each other’s needs and ca­pa­bil­i­ties dur­ing the course of the su­per­clus­ter ap­pli­ca­tion process. That only em­pha­sizes a les­son that stands at the heart of the way the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter is struc­tured and the way we in­tend to op­er­ate. At the end of the day, it is re­ally not about tech­nol­ogy at all—it’s all about peo­ple.

IStock photo

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates that the Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Su­per­clus­ter will gen­er­ate over $13.5 bil­lion in added eco­nomic value and cre­ate more than 13,500 jobs in Canada over the next ten years.

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