A B.C. consortium featuring Telus Corp., Microsoft Corp. and more than a dozen post-secondary organizations including the Univeristy of Northern B.C. is among the five successful bids to land funding from the federal government.
Ottawa’s $950-million supercluster strategy is aimed at creating public-private partnerships in regions with extensive business activity that would allow for collaboration in innovation between different companies and post-secondary institutions.
The goal of B.C.’s bid is to create a supercluster focused on digital technologies capable of transforming traditional industries such as natural resources, transportation and manufacturing, as well as advancing innovations in health technologies, telecommunications and the creative and digital economy.
"Leveraging the capability of Canada's world-leading broadband telecommunications networks, we will use advanced data collection, analytics and visualization in order to realize breakthroughs in sectors such as healthcare, natural resources and industrial applications" Telus chief corporate officer Josh Blair said in a statement.
“Our goal is to produce innovations that have tremendous local and global impacts.”
In an executive summary released in November, Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster estimated participants could invest $1.4 billion to fund 100 collaborations involving 1,000 organizations over a 10-year period.
The subsequent economic impact would boost the GDP by $15 billion and create 50,000 jobs for Canadians.
The federal government said its $950-million investment will be matched dollar for dollar by the private sector and create 50,000 “middle-class jobs.” Ottawa estimated the supercluster strategy would grow Canada’s economy by $50 billion over 10 years.
The original application featured 60 participants before growing to 260 organizations.
Included in the B.C. consortium is the University of Northern B.C.
“UNBC continues to participate in and create opportunities that will not only enhance our research culture but transform lives in Northern B.C. and around the world,” UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks said in a statement.
“We are leaders in building partnerships that enhance the success of communities we work with, and the opportunity to participate in the creation of pathways to the North that will lead to new forms of industry partnership is exciting.”
Other partners include Teck, Canfor, and Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, and the University of British Columbia, along with Emily Carr University and the B.C. Institute of Technology.
“UNBC has a terrific research community, fueled by the inquisitive nature and technical expertise of our faculty and students,” Geoff Payne, interim vice-president of research and graduate programs, said in a statement.
“Working together, and as part of a larger consortium, will improve our research and development, improve our talent development, and help create an environment that empowers economic development and diversification for the North.”
The four other winners of the Canada-wide supercluster are:
• The Ocean Supercluster (based in Atlantic Canada): using innovation to improve competitiveness in Canada's ocean-based industries, including fisheries, oil and gas, and clean energy.
• The SCALE.AI Supercluster (based in Quebec): building intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics.
• The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster (based in Ontario): connecting Canada's technology strengths to the manufacturing industry.
• The Protein Industries Supercluster (based in the Prairies): creating a leading source for plant proteins to help feed the world.