Innovation Superclusters Initiative Media Event
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
May 24, 2017
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Good morning, everyone.
Thank you, Karen [Karen McCrimmon, Member of Parliament for Kanata–Carleton], for that kind introduction.
I also want to thank John Wall [senior vice-president and head of QNX] and QNX for hosting us.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the launch of the BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre.
At the time, he said BlackBerry has long been a homegrown Canadian success story to be proud of, and I couldn’t agree more.
BlackBerry has built a reputation around the world for bold innovation and visionary leadership.
Through the hard work of the talented people at BlackBerry QNX, Canada is poised to be a leader once again—this time in autonomous vehicles.
I’m delighted to be here today to launch the next step in our government’s plan to create jobs, drive economic growth and strengthen the middle class.
Ladies and gentleman, the path to a better life for middle-class Canadians is through innovation.
Globalization and technology are reshaping how Canadians live and work.
That’s why the 2017 federal budget put forward an innovation and skills plan with the goal to grow the economy and create well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
The plan will equip Canadians with the skills to adapt to a changing job market and prepare for the jobs of the future.
Indeed, innovation depends on the resourcefulness, creativity and drive of Canadians.
The good news is that Canada already has the building blocks for an economy driven by innovation.
Our workforce is one of the most educated and highly skilled in the world.
Our researchers are world leaders in turning their work into discoveries and inventions.
And Canada has an enviable rate of entrepreneurs who start their own businesses.
We also have a thriving venture capital market. In fact, the amount of venture capital raised in Canada last year reached levels not seen in nearly two decades.
Canada also has competitive corporate tax rates and generous tax incentives for companies investing in research and development.
Even with these advantages, targeted efforts are needed to encourage more purposeful collaboration—collaboration that would accelerate the pace of innovation, especially in high-growth areas where Canada already has a globally competitive advantage.
These sectors include advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, clean resources, health and biosciences, and digital technology.
That’s why I am pleased to announce today that the Government of Canada is launching the application process for the Innovation Superclusters Initiative.
Through this initiative, our government will invest nearly $1 billion to select up to five innovation superclusters.
These dense areas of business activity where innovation happens attract large and small companies.
They collaborate with post-secondary institutions to bring promising solutions to market.
When these folks get together, they draw on each other’s energy, ideas and resources.
We see it in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Berlin.
And I see the same potential here in Canada.
Our investment in superclusters represents seed funding to create made-in-Canada Silicon Valleys in areas where Canada has world-leading strengths.
As engines of job creation and growth, business-led superclusters have enormous potential to energize regions and sectors and spur the development of new technologies.
The companies and business opportunities that are created from these partnerships equip Canadians with the advanced, specialized and in-demand skills they need for the middle-class jobs of the future.
To qualify for funding, each proponent must organize a consortium led by large and small businesses, with support from universities, colleges or polytechnics.
Each consortium should identify areas where government investment can generate transformative rather than incremental results.
And private sector partners will be expected to take an active role in governing and leading the activities of each supercluster.
We are looking for bold proposals with ambitious visions and missions.
We are also looking for large-scale partnerships that have a meaningful impact on economic growth.
This initiative is a significant public investment on a scale that has rarely been seen in this country.
That means Canadians expect to see proposals that will maximize economic benefits to them.
Indeed, our government expects its investment to be matched dollar for dollar by the business-led partnerships that apply under this initiative.
Support will go to those proposals that demonstrate how innovation is used to improve Canada’s competitiveness and global advantage.
The best proposals will:
- translate the government’s investment into the creation and growth of new companies;
- attract private sector investment in research and development to bring new products or processes to market;
- create well-paying jobs that require advanced skill sets; and
- establish an intellectual property strategy for the ownership of the ideas and solutions that are so critical to wealth creation in a knowledge economy.
We expect to announce the successful applicants by the end of this fiscal year.
Ladies and gentlemen, our government is not in the business of prescribing innovation.
However, we are making the smart and responsible investments that will result in better jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.
And we can be a meaningful partner in bringing together the private sector, knowledge institutions and civil society.
The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will transition Canada to a higher-value economy that competes globally based on the most innovative solutions—solutions that will be developed by Canadians with the skills for the well-paying jobs of today and tomorrow.
Together we will secure Canada’s place as a world leader in innovation and secure our country’s future success.
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