Superclusters Final List Winners Announcement


Speaking Points

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

Ottawa, Ontario
February 15, 2018

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, everybody.

It’s a full house here today – the who’s who of innovation.

Thank you to everyone for being here today.

This is a big day for Canada and for Canadian innovation.

You know, I first decided to run for office when I was 25.

I had finished school and had been working for Nike and Ford, and I realized that I wanted to make a difference and give back to my country.

Like most youth—and I think like a lot of children of immigrants—I really believe that if you work hard you can leave the world a better place than you found it.

And I had been shown by my parents, who came here from India, that with vision, values and hard work anything was possible.

When I was elected, I was 26. I honestly had no idea what was expected of me, but I knew I was willing to work hard to figure that out.

So I spent a lot of time listening to people from all walks of life, finding out what issues mattered to them and what I could do as an elected representative to help.

And I did learn. And I like to think I did a good job.

The day came when the Prime Minister said to me, “Nav, I want you to be the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.”

What an opportunity. I said yes, obviously.

But you know, I got home that night and I told my wife, I said, “Bram, I’m going to make Canada a global innovation superstar!”

And Bram shot me this look like maybe she didn’t believe me, and lovingly, she asked, “How are you gonna do that, Nav?”

And I remember sort of checking in and realizing that I couldn’t do it alone.

And so I did what I did when I first got to the Hill…

I spent a lot of time engaging and listening to people from all walks of life to find out what challenges and opportunities were facing us when it came to industry and innovation.

I attended countless meetings and round tables and forums. I made hundreds of phone calls to stakeholders—many of whom are in this room, so thanks for taking my call!

And I talked to caucus members about what their constituents were saying.

I went to the United States…Silicon Valley, Denver and Los Angeles, to name a few.

I also travelled to China, India and Switzerland.

I saw what worked and what didn’t work.

I began to realize the potential of Canada when it came to innovation.

I talked to experts: veterans of the innovation space, emerging leaders, industry and policy voices, the Growth Council, and everyday Canadians.

This included nearly 120,000 engagements in the consultative process of the Innovation and Skills Plan.

So I would like to say thanks to you and many others for your invaluable wisdom and for pushing this government to think big and to realize Canada’s potential.

Throughout all these conversations, it became clear to me that this was Canada’s moment.

It’s true: our economy is strong and the fastest growing in the G7.

Since our government was elected, over half a million full-time jobs have been created, and we have the lowest unemployment rate since 1976.

We’re considered one of the world’s best countries in which to do business—ranking fifth among Forbes’ best countries for business in 2018.

And we have the world’s highest proportion of adults with a university degree—55 percent compared with an OECD average of 35 percent.

We just need to find a way to leverage our existing and manifold strengths.

If we do, nothing will stop us.

I always say that Canada’s number one resource isn’t a natural resource; it’s our talent, our people.

Take, for example, our world-class researchers.

We’ve got people like Jeff Dahn, who pioneered lithium-ion battery technology at Dalhousie University and is now working with Tesla to further his research.

We’ve got Caroline Colijn, a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health at Simon Fraser University.

Or the University of Alberta’s Richard Sutton, whose expertise in machine learning is helping transform Edmonton’s reputation from an energy and mining town to a high-tech hub.

Now combine that talent with our technical expertise and commercialization know-how, with the 1 million kids that our government is helping to teach to code so that they have the skills for the jobs of the future, and with our areas of industrial strength.

We must continue this momentum.

And if we do that, partnership, collaboration and innovation will occur at a level that will literally transform the Canadian economy.

We can create incredible entrepreneurial and competitive ecosystems like the ones found in places like Silicon Valley and Israel.

And we can generate thousands of middle-class jobs for our generation, for our kids, and for generations to come—the kinds of jobs you can build a career and a life on.

So how do we do make this transformation happen?

We put forward the Innovation and Skills Plan to help Canadian innovators build global firms and create good-quality jobs.

We invested in new, cutting-edge programs and policies to make Canada the best place to develop and attract world-class talent, build new technologies, gain new customers, and receive capital to scale.

At this centre of this plan are superclusters.

“What the heck are superclusters?” you might ask.

I know it’s a “jargony” term, but superclusters are important because what they really mean is industry and good jobs.

Imagine an ecosystem where businesses of all sizes, academic and research institutions, as well as other innovation actors collaborate to make ideas grow.

Being close together results in supply-chain benefits, knowledge sharing and collaboration.

It drives competition and attracts companies from around the world to invest in Canada.

As innovation hotbeds, superclusters develop new innovations and infrastructure, and they hire and cultivate a growing pool of talent.

Superclusters are job creators.

Around the world you can find clusters in industries such as digital technology, medicine and clean technology.

So why not us? We certainly have the talent.

We put a challenge to industry. We said, “You are the experts, so you collaborate with schools, not-for-profits and your competitors to come up with the best pitches for Canadian superclusters—la crème de la crème.

“We’ll commit up to $950 million to invest in your ideas, and you match it dollar for dollar.”

And you know Canadians, we’re keeners.

So you can imagine that the response to the challenge was pretty impressive.

It was collaboration on a scale I’d never seen before.

More than 50 proposals from over 1,000 businesses with over 350 partners, including 100 academic institutions.

And the ideas were really innovative. As a self-proclaimed innovation nerd now, I have to say I was blown away.

We carefully weighed the options and invited nine proposals with outstanding potential to accelerate economic growth to submit final applications.

I stand here today with a final list.

Superclusters will transform our economy and make Canada into a global innovation superstar. I told you I’d find a way, Honey!

Superclusters will contribute over $50 billion to our GDP and create an estimated minimum of 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

Now, when Canada invests, we invest smartly.

So as part of the deal, we expect superclusters to not just grow our economy but also advance Canadian values like diversity and gender equality.

Each cluster will roll out a gender and diversity plan to make sure that the benefits of our investment involve all of Canada’s innovators.

That means more women and under-represented groups will succeed in skilled jobs in highly innovative industries. And that’s good news for everybody.

So without further ado, here are the Canadian superclusters that will revolutionize our economy and create over 50,000 middle-class jobs.

Introducing the Ocean Supercluster, which will use innovation to improve competitiveness in Canada’s ocean-based industries. This includes fisheries, oil and gas, and clean energy.

The SCALE.AI Supercluster will help Canada become a world-leading exporter. It will enable businesses to further develop in the areas of artificial intelligence and robotics.

The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster will connect Canada’s technology strengths to our manufacturing industry to make us a world manufacturing leader in the economy of tomorrow.

The Protein Industries Supercluster will make Canada the world’s leading source for plant proteins and help feed the world.

And finally, the Digital Technology Supercluster will use big data and digital technologies to unlock new potential in important sectors like health care, forestry and manufacturing.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Canada’s five superclusters.

Thank you.

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