Government & Policy
Government promises more cash for Superclusters
April 28, 2021
OTTAWA – The federal budget – delivered earlier this month by Finance Minister Chrystia Freedland (pictured) – includes significant funding for its tech superclusters, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and genomics. The current pandemic, moreover, has driven home the need for more domestic strength in the key technologies needed to detect and treat biological threats using advanced technologies.
A pillar of the government’s strategy is the Innovation Superclusters Initiative, which it will continue to support. Launched in 2017, the Innovation Superclusters Initiative has helped Canada build successful innovation ecosystems in important areas of the economy.
Drawing on their networks, the superclusters were able to quickly pivot their operations and played an important role in Canada’s COVID-19 response, the government said. For example, the Digital Technology Supercluster allocated resources to projects that used digital technologies and artificial intelligence to help facilitate faster, more accurate diagnosis, treatment, and care of COVID-19 patients.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $60 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $443.8 million over ten years, starting in 2021-22, in support of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, including:
- $185 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to support the commercialization of artificial intelligence innovations and research in Canada.
- $162.2 million over ten years, starting in 2021-22, to help retain and attract top academic talent across Canada – including in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. This programming will be delivered by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
- $48 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research to renew and enhance its research, training, and knowledge mobilization programs.
- $40 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to provide dedicated computing capacity for researchers at the national artificial intelligence institutes in Edmonton, Toronto, and Montréal.
- $8.6 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to advance the development and adoption of standards related to artificial intelligence.
The budget announces a National Quantum Strategy. “Quantum technology is at the very leading edge of science and innovation today, with enormous potential for commercialization. This emerging field will transform how we develop and design everything from life-saving drugs to next generation batteries, and Canadian scientists and entrepreneurs are well-positioned to take advantage of these opportunities. But they need investments to be competitive in this fast growing global market.”
The document proposes to provide $360 million over seven years, starting in 2021-22, to launch a National Quantum Strategy. The strategy will amplify Canada’s significant strength in quantum research; grow our quantum-ready technologies, companies, and talent; and solidify Canada’s global leadership in this area. This funding will also establish a secretariat at the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to coordinate this work.
Minister Freedland said the government will provide further details on the rollout of the strategy in the coming months.
Similarly, the government is launching a Pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy. Genomics research is developing cutting-edge therapeutics and is helping Canada track and fight COVID-19. Canada was an early mover in advancing genomics science and is now a global leader in the field.
A national approach to support genomics research can lead to breakthroughs that have real world applications, Budget 2021 said. It proposes to provide $400 million over six years, starting in 2021-22, in support of a Pan-Canadian Genomics Strategy. This funding would provide $136.7 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, for mission-driven programming delivered by Genome Canada to kick-start the new Strategy and complement the government’s existing genomics research and innovation programming.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $250 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to implement a new Clinical Trials Fund.
Promoting Canadian Intellectual Property
Canada is full of innovative and entrepreneurial people with great ideas. Those ideas are valuable intellectual property that are the seeds of huge growth opportunities. Building on the National Intellectual Property Strategy announced in Budget 2018, the government proposes to further support Canadian innovators, start-ups, and technology-intensive businesses. Budget 2021 proposes:
- $90 million, over two years, starting in 2022-23, to create ElevateIP, a program to help accelerators and incubators provide start-ups with access to expert intellectual property services.
- $75 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, for the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program to provide high-growth client firms with access to expert intellectual property services.
- These direct investments would be complemented by a Strategic Intellectual Property Program Review that will be launched. It is intended as a broad assessment of intellectual property provisions in Canada’s innovation and science programming, from basic research to near-commercial projects. This work will make sure Canada and Canadians fully benefit from innovations and intellectual property.