ECO-News Byte for February 2018

Image infographic that reads "Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster"

Trudeau government picks winners in competition to form technology ‘superclusters’ spanning applied innovation, agriscience, oceantech and more

The word for February is ‘Supercluster’ – with millions of dollars on the way from Ottawa as a Federal shot in the arm for business concentrations across Canada.

Atlantic Canada’s own Ocean Supercluster (dedicated to sustainable development of Canada’s ocean economy) was among the winners, which also included:

  • A supply chains supercluster in Quebec focused on artificial intelligence and data science for retail, manufacturing and infrastructure.

  • A next-gen manufacturing supercluster in Ontario focused on building up Canada’s competitive advantages in efficient production tech.

  • A digital tech supercluster, with all its potential applications (from health to environment) in British Columbia.

  • Protein innovations in Saskatchewan, to make Canada a plant-based protein leader in the world supply chain.

So what exactly IS a supercluster? We’re glad you asked!

These business ecosystem focal points represent so much more than just a concerted effort within industries. They foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing across sectors, resulting in rising economic tides for all the socioeconomic systems they touch.

Superclusters often happen organically – booming city economies are natural superclusters. Look to powerhouse centres like Toronto and Montreal to see what we mean. When culture and business thrive together, everyone wins. But expertise is an unending draw that feeds itself – the vast majority of new innovation and the world’s top research concentrating in these areas as a result is not without risk for the rest of the country.

Fostering this pattern of growth in jurisdictions with unique opportunities so they don’t lag behind just makes sense.

Atlantic Canada for instance has the ocean on its doorstep and a long-charted relationship with those waves. Why not propel connectivity within ocean-going sectors, so Halifax is the world’s leader in the ‘how-to’ of building a sustainable economic relationships with ocean resources?

Why shouldn’t Halifax be the best place in the world to develop oceantech? Or Saskatchewan lead the way in efficient plant-based proteins?

In Atlantic Canada, the influx of cash from the Feds to the tune of 150 million (to match private investment from four core investors who’d already committed $15 million each as a prerequisite to make the bid: Emera, Clearwater Seafoods, Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador — and Cuna del Mar, an open ocean aquaculture promoter) will be used to set up non-profit governance for informed distribution and investment of those funds. The private sector leaders this non-profit taps for its Board will be charged with examining the ocean supply chain to identify the gaps in knowledge and know-how where investment will make the greatest impact.

It’s our hope that next-gen expertise in areas like tidal energy and other ocean renewables can flourish as a direct outcome.

Look to organizations like Halifax’s new not-for-profit ocean incubator, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), which helped make Atlantic Canada’s supercluster bid, and commercial hubs elsewhere along Atlantic Canada’s coastlines to make waves for the foreseeable future.

What does this mean for your business?

If you’re in one of the winning jurisdictions and in a related industry – you’ll want to find out whether you qualify for any programs, grants or incubation help from the organizations spearheading supercluster investments:

Quebec, SCALE.AI

Atlantic Canada, Ocean’s Supercluster and COVE

Saskatchewan, Protein Industries Canada

Ontario, AI Manufacturing supercluster, Next Generation Manufacturing

British Columbia, the Digital Tech Supercluster


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