Minister Vandal announces federal investment to grow aerospace industry in Calgary

News release

$4 million to support innovation in Calgary's aerospace industry

$4 million through PrairiesCan to establish an Aerospace Innovation Hub and a remotely-piloted aviation training centre

June 26, 2023 – Calgary, Alberta – PrairiesCan

At the heart of Alberta’s growing aerospace sector are more than 500 small- and medium-sized firms that employ thousands of Albertans, working to develop and manufacture new technologies and applications for market. The Government of Canada is investing in Alberta’s aerospace businesses and the organizations that support them to help enhance this important industry’s competitiveness, create good-paying jobs and diversify Alberta’s economy.

Today, the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan, announced a federal investment of more than $4,000,000 for two projects that will further bolster Calgary’s leadership and reputation as a centre of excellence and innovation in the aerospace sector.

  • Over $2.5 million will enable the University of Calgary to establish an Aerospace Innovation Hub. This new hub will provide startups and existing small- and medium-sized firms with technology development support, prototyping services, and access to testing equipment. This project is expected to create approximately 50 jobs, train 50 participants and directly benefit 25 small- and medium-sized firms.
  • Over $1.4 million will support Canada’s first remotely-piloted aviation training centre for heavy-lift drones training, maintenance, and certification at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). The centre is playing a key role in enabling the adoption of heavy-lift drone technology by creating one of the most advanced training and certification centres in North America. The project is expected to create approximately 45 jobs and train 110 participants.

Both projects will enhance the growth of aerospace and advanced manufacturing businesses and fill gaps in training for specially-trained pilots and mechanics. In total, today’s investments are expected to lead to nearly 100 new jobs and train 160 participants.


“Calgary’s post-secondary institutions are playing a vital role in supporting the growth of Alberta’s aerospace sector. Our government’s investment in these two initiatives at the University of Calgary and SAIT will help enhance the competitiveness of Alberta’s aerospace industry by enabling local businesses to bring new products and services to the global market and create good-paying jobs in Calgary.”
–The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan

“Our government is growing Canada’s aerospace industry from coast to coast, that is why we are investing in Calgary’s talented innovators to support the development of the next generation of aerospace technologies and create high-value jobs for Calgarians.”
–The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Calgary’s significant expertise and strengths in the aerospace sector make it the ideal location for a new aerospace innovation hub and remotely-piloted aviation training centre. I’m proud to see our government investing in two initiatives that will have a tangible impact on local aerospace firms looking to commercialize their products and services while training a new generation of skilled workers for this growing industry.”
–George Chahal, Member of Parliament for Calgary Skyview 

“The University of Calgary supports the full cycle of entrepreneurship; investing in education, coaching and mentorship; funding and infrastructure; and facilitating connections to industry. The Aerospace Innovation Hub will light the path from lab to industry impact. A beacon for researchers and budding start-ups, the Hub will attract aerospace and advanced manufacturing innovators from around the world to Calgary and create a critical mass of industry activity that anchors and catalyzes our city’s aerospace ecosystem.”
–Dr. Ed McCauley, president and vice-chancellor, University of Calgary

“This investment further enables SAIT to deliver world-class training at Canada’s first remotely-piloted aviation training centre — an expansion within SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) specifically focused on training, certification, research and development for heavy-lift and beyond-visual-line-of-sight Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems. With demand for talent growing on an international scale, we’re committed to delivering the skilled workforce needed to thrive and support this emerging industry in Alberta, throughout Canada and globally.”
–Dr. David Ross, SAIT President and CEO

Quick facts

  • The total PrairiesCan investment of $4,005,977 announced today is allocated through the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (ARRI).

  • ARRI is a national program that is providing $250 million over three years to help the Canadian aerospace sector emerge from the pandemic and continue to compete on the global stage.

  • The initiative is supporting small- and medium-sized businesses to green their operations and adopt environmentally sustainable practices; improve productivity and strengthen commercialization; and strengthen integration into regional and global supply chains.

  • PrairiesCan is delivering the initiative across the Prairie Provinces.

Associated links


Kyle Allen
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Rohit Sandhu
Communications Manager
Prairies Economic Development Canada

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