Canada puts £500 million into ‘innovation superclusters’

Government initiative funds five collaborations involving 60 academic institutions and more than 450 businesses

February 23, 2018
Artificial intelligence
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Five proposed university-industry collaborations in Canada have been awarded a total of C$950 million (£538 million) through a new government innovation programme.

Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister for innovation, science and economic development, announced that the government would over five years fund five large-scale projects, which together involve 60 academic institutions and more than 450 businesses.

These include projects on ocean-based industries, including fisheries, oil and gas, and clean energy; artificial intelligence and robotics; the manufacturing industry; plant proteins; and big data and digital technologies. 

The winners will have to match the federal funding they receive.

The government said that it hoped that the Innovation Superclusters Initiative, which was first announced in the 2017 budget and was inspired by the US’ Silicon Valley, would create more than 50,000 “middle-class jobs” and expand Canada’s economy by C$50 billion over the next 10 years.

It described superclusters as “dense areas of business activity” that attract “large and small companies that collaborate with universities, colleges and not-for-profit organizations to turn ideas into solutions that can be brought to market”.

Kirsty Duncan, the science minister, said that “groundbreaking Canadian research is at the heart of these superclusters”.

“We are renowned for our bold progress in artificial intelligence, ocean and marine science, and agriculture,” she said. “With our superclusters initiative, scientists in these fields and others can look forward to expanding their research horizons in partnership with their academic peers, businesses, entrepreneurs and members of the non-profit community.”

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, added that the new superclusters “offer a collaborative way to build ambitious new partnerships between the private sector and our institutions, bringing the expertise, skills and discoveries of university researchers and students to the maximum benefit of Canadians”.

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