Ontario to discuss microelectronics with ITAC

Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade officials plan to meet with representatives of the Information Technology Association of Canada to discuss ITAC’s latest proposal to help the microelectronics industry in Ontario.

ITAC last week announced a report that calls for four “centres of excellence” in the province, focussing on automotive, health, multimedia and broadband technologies.

Government officials are planning to meet with ITAC strategic microelectronics council “to learn more about the proposals put forward in the report and to discuss how it can support cluster development in Ontario’s microelectronics sector,” said David Bauer, senior communications officer with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

Though no date has been set, the meeting is happening “in the near future,” Bauer said. The ITAC report, dubbed “Revitalizing Ontario’s Microelectronics Industry,” is based on interviews with nearly 40 executives.

It calls for an “automotive centre of excellence” in the province because microelectronic components are used in vehicles and vehicle manufacturers have several plants in the province.

It also recommends a “multimedia processing” centre in Waterloo Region, which would focus on video technologies. Waterloo Region, located about 100 km west of Toronto on the Grand River, is comprised of the cities of Cambridge, Waterloo and Kitchener.

Also known as the “golden triangle,” Waterloo Region would be “a very natural place” for a multimedia processing centre of excellence, says the region’s chief politician, Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling.

Because the University of Waterloo encourages researchers to commercialize their work, several major manufacturers in the region got their start from U of Waterloo grads, Seiling said. As examples, he cited BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Inc. and Dalsa Corp., which manufactures integrated circuits and semiconductor wafers for digital cameras and other imaging hardware.

In addition to a multimedia processing centre of excellence, ITAC also called for a “healthcare technology centre of excellence,” designed to “speed the introduction” of applications that would cut costs and improve patient care.

Last week, ITAC senior vice-president Lynda Leonard said some executives interviewed for the report are asking whether the province could “play a role” to “create opportunity for construction” of a centre of excellence. The report stated the Ontario government could “spearhead the development of centralized electronic health records” with access controlled by biometric authentication.

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