Thank you, Jean-Yves, for the kind introduction.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for coming.
It's always a pleasure to be in Québec City, one of our country's most dynamic cities with a remarkable story, but especially to be here at the National Optics Institute—an organization that continues to innovate on a global scale. It's a pleasure to see Jean-Yves Roy, who joined me as part of a Canadian business delegation when we visited the Netherlands in March.
Our government has been working hard to support families and businesses in the greater Québec region.
For example, the contract for Manège militaire is almost ready to be awarded, delivering on our commitment to rebuild a centrepiece of Québec's rich architectural and historical landscape. And Gilmore Hill is now open year-round.
And today I'm here to announce more good news for the region.
As you know, Prime Minister Harper joined you to celebrate INO's 25th anniversary last year. And I know he was given an especially warm welcome.
He spoke about INO as a symbol of pride for Canada, both here at home and abroad.
INO has been and remains a real catalyst in the greater Québec region and is one of the drivers of the economy as it provides 200 high-quality jobs, owns 206 patents and is responsible for 29 spinoff companies, such as TerreAction, FISO Technologies and Optel Vision, for instance, which provide more than 1,000 high-paying jobs.
INO has an annual budget of $33 million and with its partners contributes over half a billion dollars to Canada's economy each and every year. Its activities generate a leverage effect of one to ten. For example, every dollar invested in INO represents ten dollars in economic growth. Also, for each job created at INO, there are nine others created or retained throughout the Canadian economy, six of which are in Quebec.
Its research activities have given rise to numerous new enterprises in the greater Québec region. And INO has distinguished itself as a leader in its field and built a solid reputation on the national and international levels as a result of its technological breakthroughs integrating optics and photonics.
More recently, last May, INO won the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance's Celestica award as the best Canadian research centre capable of supporting partners in their market positioning.
So congratulations to INO on all of your achievements.
Of course, our government, thanks in part to the work of Senator Fortin-Duplessis, has been a partner since day one, having invested nearly $200 million for research and development activities that began here.
For example, our government, through support from the Canadian Space Agency, contributed to INO's development of Microflow, a flow cytometer.
This medical device is used in hospitals to identify disease through blood analysis. The equipment typically weighs hundreds of pounds and requires a specialist to interpret the results. INO developed a cytometer that is the size of a shoe box and provides instant results without the need of a specialist to interpret the readings.
This equipment, developed in partnership with CSA, was tested by Commander Chris Hadfield on the International Space Station during his recent and extremely successful mission.
As many of you know, Canada is also a partner in the James Webb Space Telescope, which is the successor to the Hubble Telescope.
Expected to blast into space in 2018, it will be the most powerful space telescope ever. I'm pleased to say INO has built the telescope's mirrors, optical coating and connecting pads—all key components of its fine guidance sensor.
And today we're here to launch the next important project our partnership is taking on.
I am pleased to announce a $650,000 contract between the Canadian Space Agency and the National Optics Institute for the development and testing of a new thermal sensor that could enable the remote sensing of ice clouds in the cold regions of the poles
It is the first such project of its kind and one that has the potential to be marketed around the world, making Canada a leader in this technology.
Why does this technology matter?
These ice clouds contribute to the cold, dry air masses that feed unusual winter storms at middle latitudes where much of Canada's population lives.
If satellites can measure these clouds and their impact on atmospheric cooling, forecasters may be able to better predict the severe storms that pummel Canadians and cost our economy millions of dollars.
We can all agree that anything we can do to better anticipate winter storms is positive.
But imagine if this capability was available before severe, expensive and dangerous storms strike. Greater forewarning could help us prepare and avoid a great deal of damage.
That is why this new sensor has the potential to be so important. It may save us money, it may save us hardship but, most importantly, it may save lives.
I should point out that the CSA is not the only federal partner involved in making this project a reality. It is being carried out in collaboration with departments across government and scientists in universities across Canada, and it includes NSERC funding for climate and atmospheric research.
As part of their contributions, these scientists will test the technology in the Arctic and on aircraft this spring and will evaluate the data in preparation for future missions on a weather satellite.
This contract is a great example of the kinds of investments in innovation and commercialization that our government has been making to support cutting-edge technology.
Thanks to space technologies, things unheard of 20 years ago are now commonplace.
Our government is making investments like this because we want Canada to be at the forefront of space innovation and advancement.
None of humanity's accomplishments in space would have been possible without the creativity and industry of trained minds.
Our government is resolute in fostering innovation and positioning Canada as a key player in advanced research and space technology development.
In this case, our support will help raise the level of expertise and competitiveness of the space sector in proven competencies such as remote sensing. And it will optimize the use of earth observation data to improve our understanding of the planet.
The bottom line here is that we want Canada's space industry to identify the problems others miss and find innovative solutions.
By doing so, we will all benefit.
A special thank you to Jean-Yves Roy, INO's president and CEO, for the invitation to join you today. Congratulations on your success and your vision for the future of this company.
I wish the National Optics Institute continued success.