Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Battle to Become One of 5 Federal 'Superclusters' Attracts 50 Competitors

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Battle to Become One of 5 Federal 'Superclusters' Attracts 50 Competitors

Article excerpt

Feds' 'supercluster' contest attracts 50 bids

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OTTAWA - The competition to become one of up to five government-designated technology "superclusters" and draw from a federal funding purse of $950 million has attracted more than 50 proposals.

The contest, a cornerstone of Ottawa's so-called innovation agenda, is designed to encourage academia and businesses to work together on strategies to boost fast-growing sectors -- everything from advanced manufacturing to clean technology.

The number of bids generated during the competition's first phase, which ended late last month, exceeded federal expectations, said a senior government official who spoke on condition on anonymity because the information was not yet public.

The 50 letters of intent came from consortia representing a total of more than 200 companies and 20 post-secondary institutions, the official said.

The contest, overseen by Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, aims to lift the economy, promote research and create high-quality jobs. Bains has said he's looking for ambitious bids that also feature intellectual property strategies designed to keep benefits for Canada.

The plan includes a federal funding commitment of up to $950 million over five years to support the development of between three and five superclusters.

As examples, the government listed six innovative industries in its spring budget that could anchor superclusters: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health and bio-sciences and clean resources.

The submissions represent each of these sectors and more, said the official, who declined to elaborate on the other industries.

The government is also hoping the leverage from its $950-million commitment will lure even more private investment cash into the economy.

To qualify, supercluster bids must show private-sector investment commitments of at least a dollar for every government dollar requested.

Combined, the submitted proposals say they can bring in a total of $17 billion in private investment, even though they are asking for $10 billion in federal funding, the official added.

"The policy imperative for this program was trying to unlock business investment in (research and development), which has been this perpetual issue in Canada" said the official. …

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