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Canada names five economic ‘superclusters’ that will share $950M in funding


Canada names five economic ‘superclusters’ that will share $950M in funding

OTTAWA — The federal government named the five winning bids Thursday of its high-tech “superclusters” sweepstakes that will divvy up $950 million of public funding in hope of stoking economic growth and job creation in return.

Ottawa’s big bet on government-designated superclusters was designed to encourage academia, not-for-profit organizations and companies of all sizes to work together on strategies to boost high-growth sectors.

The winners, announced by Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, closed out a nine-month competition that represents the centrepiece of the Liberals’ so-called innovation agenda.

“What is a supercluster? It is a made-in-Canada Silicon Valley that will create tens of thousands of jobs — that’s what a supercluster is,” Bains said Thursday as he unveiled the winners in Ottawa.

“It’s about collaboration as well. Look at this room — we have academia, business, you have small business and large business, and we have government — working together, promoting collaboration,  supporting our supply chains and also developing and nurturing skills and knowledge and making sure that we pass that knowledge from one generation to another.

“Superclusters — it’s a job magnet.”

The winning bids, chosen from nine finalists, were spread evenly across the country. Bains insisted their selection was the result of a rigorous process that involved third-party experts.

The superclusters are:

— The Ocean supercluster based in Atlantic Canada will use innovation to improve competitiveness in ocean-based industries, including fisheries, oil and gas and clean energy;

— The Scale AI supercluster in Quebec will work on building intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics;

— The Advanced Manufacturing supercluster in Ontario will connect technology strengths to the manufacturing industry to prepare for the economy of tomorrow;

— The Protein Industries supercluster in the Prairies will work on making the country a leading source of plant proteins;

— The Digital Technology supercluster in British Columbia will use big data and digital technologies to unlock new potential in important sectors like health care, forestry, and manufacturing.

The winners will receive between $150 million and $250 million each. The money will be distributed over five years to the superclusters, which are required to match the federal funding they receive, dollar for dollar.

Bains said the chosen consortia exceeded that goal by raising a total of $1.5 billion, which brings the overall investment, when combined with the government’s $950-million commitment, close to $2.4 billion.

He insisted the superclusters will generate at least 50,000 jobs and will include efforts to help upgrade the skills of workers.