Western Innovation Forum connects Western Canadian innovators to investment and growth opportunities

News release

8th annual conference focuses on defence, security, marine and aerospace sectors

March 5, 2020 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Over 250 innovators from the defence and security sectors are meeting in Vancouver to explore new business ventures and learn how to participate in major defence-related government contracts. They are taking part in the Western Innovation Forum (WIF) 2020, hosted by Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) in collaboration with the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries and the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada-Pacific.

WIF supports the Government of Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) policy, which leverages defence and security procurement to create innovation-driven jobs and economic growth. The ITB policy requires companies awarded major federal defence contracts to do business in Canada equal to the value of their contracts. This often creates business opportunities for smaller start-ups, suppliers and innovators.

Working to spur innovation and economic growth in Western Canada

Western Canada’s economy and jobs of the future depend on the ability of Canadian businesses to continue to adapt, innovate, and maintain their competitive edge in a fast-paced and increasingly global economy. Innovation is the key to competitiveness, productivity, economic growth, creating good jobs, and overall making life better for all Canadians.

Today, Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, and Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for WD, spoke about WD’s role as convenor and pathfinder to connect key economic actors such as industry, post-secondary institutions and Indigenous groups with federal departments and other partners.

This year, WIF features presentations by industry officials, workshops on how to leverage Canada’s defence procurements and government programs, and over 260 business-to-business (B2B) meetings between major defence contractors with ITB obligations and representatives of Western Canadian companies and research institutions.


“Canada’s long-term prosperity depends on new ideas for new products and processes, to create more high-quality jobs and opportunity for all. We support diversified growth in this innovation economy by helping small and medium-size companies participate in opportunities, such as major defence contracts, through events like the Western Innovation Forum.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, and Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

“As the regional association, which represents innovative companies in Western Canada, ABCMI is very pleased by the level of federal government support in the planning of events like the Western Innovation Forum. This support will ensure Canada’s competitiveness on the international stage.”

Alex Reuben, President & CEO of the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries

“We are proud to partner with the Government of Canada on the Western Innovation Forum, an event that provides an opportunity for aerospace innovators, companies, and researchers to connect in pursuit of new jobs, new innovation and new growth.  AIAC values its partnership with Western Economic Diversification and continues to work in collaboration with them to support investment and growth in Canada’s aerospace industry.”

Jim Quick, President & CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada

Quick facts

  • The ITB policy contributed more than $4.7 billion annually to Canada’s GDP, and close to 46,000 jobs between 2013 and 2017.

  • 245 companies in Western Canada benefitted from ITB investments between 2013 and 2017, of which 130 are small- and medium-sized businesses.

  • ITB investments in collaborative research and development, and skills development in Western Canada amounted to close to $75 million.

Associated links


Alexander Cohen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
Western Economic Diversification Canada

Stay connected

Follow Western Economic Diversification Canada on Twitter: @WD_Canada

Follow the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries on Twitter: @AbcmiNews

Follow the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada-Pacific on Twitter: @AIAC_News

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