Superclusters Shortlist Event


Speaking Points

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Vancouver, British Columbia
October 12, 2017

Check Against Delivery

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!

I’m really pleased to be here today.

Thank you for the introduction, Bill [Bill Tam, President and CEO, BC Tech Association].

I’m happy to share the stage with Minister Ralston and Mayor Robertson, as well as representatives of organizations that will benefit from today’s announcement.

This is certainly an exciting day for the city of Vancouver and the province of British Columbia.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I’d like to congratulate all involved on the opening of the BC Tech Cube.

The Cube—I love the name by the way—is Canada’s first virtual reality and augmented reality hub.

This is a key part of the innovation ecosystem and a key piece of infrastructure for tech in British Columbia.

It promises to strengthen an already rock-solid sector that is the fastest-growing in Canada.

But the sector wouldn’t be such a success without B.C.’s world-class creative and digital media talent.

There are more than 100,000 residents working directly in digital technology and almost as many fill supporting positions.

In fact, digital is everywhere, including new AR and VR applications across the mining and real estate industries.

I had a great opportunity to see—and to try—this tremendous technology in action at Finger Food Studios, a founding partner of the Cube.

And like the announcement I’ll touch on shortly, the Cube encourages a collaborative approach to innovation.

Really, a job well done to you all.

As everyone here can appreciate, technology has disrupted our lives at every level, simultaneously unearthing limitless discovery and opportunity from which we’ve all benefited.

But it’s a big change, and we’ve got to be ready for it.

That’s why our government has made innovation and economic growth priorities.

We’re making sure that our country, our industry and our people don’t just weather these changes but also capitalize on them and thrive.

We need to protect jobs in traditional industries and, at the same time, prepare for the middle-class jobs of the future.

If we do this with intention, with a strategy and with smart investments, no one will be left behind.

I don’t want us to just “find our place” in the new economy; I want us to create the place and inhabit it fully.

You know, the Prime Minister and I have often chatted about what kind of future we envision for Canada.

And I tell him that I see a future where our values of diversity and inclusion allow us to leverage collaboration between the best and brightest to innovate and to energize our economy for the benefit of us all.

We need to build bridges and attract international talent while nurturing talent at home so that a scientist from Australia, a coder from Tanzania and a researcher from Trois-Rivières, Canada, generate the kinds of rich ideas that can only be hatched by the sharing of knowledge between individuals with different expertise, cultural experiences and learning.

Our diversity is our strength. It is Canada’s value proposition, and it will ensure our success.

So how do we attract and nurture talent?

How do we create good middle-class jobs for this generation, for our kids and for generations to come?

How do we create a climate of innovation that will attract businesses to invest in Canada?

The answer is: superclusters.

What the heck is a supercluster you might ask? I know, it’s a jargony term, but superclusters are important because they mean jobs.

A cluster is an area of business activity that brings together companies, academic and research institutions, and other innovation actors.

Being close together results in supply-chain benefits, knowledge sharing and collaboration; drives competition; and attracts companies from around the world to invest in Canada.

Clusters create jobs and grow our economy.

A supercluster is an innovation hotbed that is home to one or more clusters that share technologies and infrastructure and hire and cultivate the same pool of talent. Think Silicon Valley.

Superclusters create lots of good jobs: jobs you can build a career out of, start a family on; jobs that will grow the middle class.

So naturally, this government would like to build a few superclusters—up to five in fact—with an investment of up to $950 million.

We put a call out to the best and brightest across Canada.

We said work together and come up with the kinds of innovative pitches that are going to change industry as we know it.

We said come back to us with your plans to spur growth through innovation, make Canada globally competitive and develop a world-class workforce.

We asked how much they’d be willing to invest in these ideas and then offered to match it.

Yes, it’s the Dragons’ Den of public policy.

And wow, let me tell you, the responses were impressive.

We received over 50 proposals from over 1,000 businesses, 100 post-secondary institutions and 250 other leaders from coast to coast.

Together, industry proposed to raise up to $17 billion in investment straight into our economy.

That’s based on a total request of $10 billion in federal funding.

Now that’s the kind of public-private partnership this initiative was designed to encourage.

And folks, the ideas were challenging, disruptive, creative and, frankly, inspiring.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and a bit of a nerd.

I mean I was blown away as a person, as Navdeep, and invigorated by what our future has to offer.

Thanks to all who worked on these projects.

Today, I’m here in Vancouver to announce the shortlisted supercluster applicant from B.C., which we’re inviting to submit a full application. Of the shortlisted applicants, we will invest in up to five.

If selected, this cluster would do incredible things for the region, including creating new middle-class, resilient jobs, new businesses and new technologies.

I’ve been to Halifax, Montréal, Toronto and Calgary, working my way west to Vancouver for today’s national announcement.

I should add that Minister Goodale gave me a rest and made a similar announcement on my behalf in Regina yesterday.

At each stop, I revealed a new shortlisted proposal.

Before the big announcement, I want to share what makes me proudest.

The supercluster initiative created partnerships, started conversations that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place and opened up a world of possibilities.

And there’s no reason why those conversations should stop after today. No reason for this spirit of partnership to stop.

I strongly encourage you to continue identifying additional partners, especially among the like-minded consortia that pitched ideas alongside you.

My challenge to you is this: Find ways to attract even more investment, create an even more ambitious mission and jump-start innovation on an even grander scale.

If anyone can do it, it’s you.

Without further ado, I’m pleased to announce the following consortium for B.C.: the Digital Technology Supercluster.

It is one of the shortlisted applicants that has been invited to submit a full proposal to the Government.

It is among nine superclusters from coast to coast that represent sectors ranging from ocean technologies to artificial intelligence to advanced manufacturing to agri-food, among others.

The Digital Technology Supercluster aims to make Canada faster, smarter and more collaborative in inventing, developing and applying digital technologies.

In doing so, it intends to advance data collection, analysis and visualization to drive competitiveness across environment and resource technologies, precision health, and manufacturing.

I must say that we really have our work cut out for us.

The calibre of our nine shortlisted applicants is remarkable to put it mildly.

Congratulations to all of them.

I look forward to receiving their full applications.

Thank you.

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