Digital technology supercluster could create 50,000 jobs, $50B in GDP over 10 years

Canada’s federal Innovation Supercluster Initiative has received all of its final proposals and while shortlisted applicants eagerly await their fate, one group has already released just how impactful it is expecting to be on the Canadian economy.

The Digital Technology (DT) Supercluster says that, if selected for the initiative, it anticipates more than $1.4 billion in investments to fund at least 100 collaborative projects with more than 1000 organizations over the span of 10 years. The BC-based consortium expects these projects could generate as much as $15 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) in that time and 50,000 new jobs.

The DT supercluster hopes use new or emerging technologies to advance Canada’s economic opportunities, position Canada as a global leader, and address challenges in several key verticals, including industry, health, and natural resources. It plans to use innovative tech like mixed, virtual, and augmented reality, as well as data analytics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud, and blockchain.

“Our collaboration framework will draw upon expertise and skills from companies, organizations and individuals across Canada,” says Bill Tam, co-chair of the DT supercluster, in a Jan. 9 press release. “We aim to tackle opportunities that would not have been undertaken by any company alone, but instead through a collective effort, these projects will have global impact — like advancing cancer treatment with the goal of finding a cure — and to position Canada as a world leader in a number of cutting-edge technologies.”

The supercluster program was announced in the 2017 federal budget and earmarked $950 million for five industry-led consortiums. Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Navdeep Bains defines a supercluster as a dense area of business activity that attracts large and small companies alike and encourages them to collaborate with post-secondary schools and non-profit organizations to turn ideas into solutions that can be brought to market.

In October 2017, the shortlist was announced and includes nine consortiums (you can find more information here):

  • Oceans Supercluster
  • Proteins Innovations Supercluster
  • Building an Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster
  • Artificial Intelligence-powered Supply Chain Supercluster
  • Mobility Systems and Technologies for the 21st Century Supercluster
  • Clean, Low-Energy, Engaged, and Remediated Supercluster
  • Smart Agri-Food Supercluster
  • Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Infrastructure Supercluster
  • Digital Technology Supercluster

The DT supercluster’s first proposed projects include a secure health and genomic platform to help build a better data infrastructure for advanced cancer treatments that are personalized to each patient; an earth data store to improve data collection, sharing, and visualization in the resource sector; and a digital learning factory to facilitate collaboration on the development of virtual environments to help the manufacturing industry.

Its founding members are Telus, Microsoft, Teck, Change Healthcare, Providence Health Care, and the University of British Columbia. New members since being shortlisted in October include Shoppers Drug Mart, Canfor, GE Digital, The Terry Fox Research Institute, University Health Network, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, SickKids, and over 200 other organizations and post-secondary institutions.

“Canfor signed on as a member of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster after seeing the global reach of the consortium and the sustainable challenges it can address along with other industry leaders like UrtheCast and Teck. As a leader in integrated forestry products with Canadian roots and global reach, it was important to join,” Don Kayne, CEO at Canfor, adds in the press release.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacs
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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