Updated story: Short list for $950 million supercluster initiative revealed

The Canadian government has selected nine consortiums for its supercluster program shortlist.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, is currently on a cross-country tour to announce successful applications. His first stop in Halifax, NS, confirmed the Ocean Supercluster bid from the Atlantic region, which aims 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,” a government press release says.

“I’m thrilled to kick off a cross-country tour in Halifax today to announce shortlisted applicants to the Superclusters Initiative,” Minister Bains said in an Oct. 10 statement. “Superclusters are job-creating regions with strong economies, like Silicon Valley, and our government intends to create five of them in Canada. Through the Superclusters Initiative, we’ve started conversations and created solid partnerships between government, the private sector, academia and communities. In today’s knowledge-based economy, this collaboration is essential. Together, we are building the economy of the future, creating the jobs of today and tomorrow and gearing up for global success that will benefit all Canadians.”

He added: “Today I announced the shortlisted applicant to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative for the Atlantic region. If selected as one of Canada’s five superclusters, the Ocean Supercluster would energize Canada’s ocean economy by investing in digital ocean technologies that will increase Canada’s competitiveness and create middle-class jobs for this generation and the next.”

The Atlantic region’s supercluster is led by Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, and includes over 25 firms, such as Emera Inc., Clearwater, Aspin Kemp & Associates, radient360, and Dalhousie University.

The release also says that Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, would be announcing the shortlisted Saskatchewan-based supercluster on Protein Innovations, led by agriculture firms like Regina’s Alliance Grain Traders Inc. and American giant DowDuPont Inc., in Regina on Minister Bains’ behalf on Oct. 10.

The Proteins Innovations Canada cluster is hoping to capture the “massive export market opportunity for safe, nutritious plant-based food and feed by stimulating collaboration on novel technologies and value-added supply-chain infrastructure,” the government says.

The other successful bids include:

  • A Building an Advanced Manufacturing supercluster based in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor that aims to improve manufacturing inefficiencies and speed up adoption of technology by building an industry 4.0 ecosystem. Companies involved include auto parts maker Linamar Corp., Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and software startup Miovision Technologies Inc., plus the MaRS Discovery District and the University of Waterloo.
  • An Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered Supply Chain supercluster that wants to define a new global supply chain platform and use AI to improve business processes, particularly in the retail, manufacturing, and infrastructure sectors. It also wants to bolster Canadian leadership in AI and data science and empower Canada as a leading exporter. It is being led by Quebec City’s Optel Group and backed by such Quebec corporate mainstays as BCE Inc., CGI Group and Alimentation Couche-Tard.
  • Also based in Quebec, the Mobility Systems and Technologies for the 21st Century supercluster hopes to leverage digital technologies to advance Canadian industrial leadership in next-gen mobility products and services. It plans to focus on innovation and commercialization in aerospace, ground transportation, and advanced manufacturing. The group is led by CAE Inc., plus over 170 firms like Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp., UrtheCast Corp., Marinvent Corp., and Polytechnique Montreal.
  • An Ontario-based Clean, Low-Energy, Engaged, and Remediated supercluster that wants to transform Canada’s mining sector and position the country as a leader in clean resources, clean tech, and responsible sourcing of metals. It also plans to deal with global challenges like energy intensity, water use, and environmental footprints. The Canada Mining Innovation Council has taken the lead, along with over 90 firms such as Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., Barrick Gold Corp., Teck Resources Ltd., Motion Metrics, and the University of British Columbia.
  • Another agriculture group, 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.
  • The Smart, Sustainable, and Resilient Infrastructure consortium wants to 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.
  • lastly, a Digital Technology consortium that wants to make the country faster, smart,er and more collaborative in inventing, developing and applying digital technologies, such as advance data collection and analytics. It plans to drive competitiveness across environmental and resource tech in particular, as well as health and manufacturing. It includes several BC firms, as well as Telus Corp., Timberwest Forest Corp., and six postsecondary institutions

Final applications from the shortlisted groups are due by Nov. 24.

Notably missing from this list are the three information and communications technology (ICT) bids previously covered by IT World Canada, including the blockchain supercluster, microelectronics bid, and digital identity application.

The Innovation Supercluster Initiative was first announced as an $800 million (CAD) competition looking to fund industry-led groups promising to innovate in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, agrifood, clean tech, digital technology, health/biosciences, clean resources, and infrastructure and transportation in the 2016 federal budget, but the initiative was expanded in the 2017 budget to $950 million. The Canadian government accepted first round applications until the end of July, and will choose up to five finalists for the program in early 2018.

The Globe and Mail notes that final bids could be different from the nine included on its shortlist, however. The consortiums have been encouraged to add more participants, including those from unsuccessful applications, and create “more ambitious job-creation plans.”

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacshttp://www.itwc.ca
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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