As Canada completes five years of the Global Innovation Clusters program, each cluster has seen unprecedented innovation and industry collaboration that continues to support economic development and growth.
Collaborating Towards a Clean Global Economy with Break-Through Technologies In Critical Minerals
Critical minerals are the building blocks for the green digital economy. The Digital Global Innovation Cluster is investing in teams of Canadian companies who are driving ‘world first’ innovations in the critical minerals sector to support the energy transition that the world needs.
A key player in Digital’s Earth X-Ray for Low-Impact Mining project is Ideon Technologies, a BC-based company pioneering world-leading mining technologies that accelerate the transition to sustainable, low-impact mining. The Earth X-Ray project will allow mining companies to identify the density and quality of critical minerals up to one kilometer beneath the Earth’s surface, reducing ‘hit-and-miss’ drilling and the environmental impacts associated with it. Increased visibility and locational accuracy will also reduce costs and increase yields across the mining industry value chain.
The Earth X-Ray project is accelerating Canada’s competitiveness in the global mining industry, creating export potential and driving GDP growth. Thanks to Digital’s involvement, Ideon is accelerating its product roadmap, growing its intellectual property (IP) and establishing new commercial partnerships.
The Digital Supercluster is working with innovators, researchers, industry leaders and potential customers to support the development and scaling of technologies that will expand Canada’s global leadership in every element of the critical mineral supply chain.
AI as a Crucial Driver for the Green Transformation of our Industries
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a central piece for the green transformation of our industries. With AI, Canadian organizations are now equipped to work smarter by gaining more visibility on their demand and on their supply chain. Real-time data can help them increase performance in their day-to-day operations and mitigate their impact on the environment. Through AI, they can optimize production, avoid downtimes, minimize waste, and reduce the need for transport of goods and people. In its own way, each AI-powered project can help reduce our industries’ carbon footprint.
As AI is gaining in popularity, more and more businesses wish to leverage this technology for their green transformation. That’s where Scale AI comes in to play to de-risk AI projects and support planet-friendly innovation.
An example of this is Quebec-based OPTEL, who partnered with a consortium of five major players in the AI and mining industries, in order to transform the supply chain for the minerals and metals sector. Thanks to Scale AI’s support, this project successfully enabled the digitization of the sector’s value chain, which allowed for the stakeholders to gain precious insight on each element of the supply chain, including its socioenvironmental impact, in order to make better decisions to optimize performance while improving environmental sustainability.
Greening Marine Shipping
Ninety per cent of the world’s goods are moved on the ocean and this is steadily growing with the increased demand for ocean trade. Marine shipping is also a major source of emissions contributing almost three per cent of the world’s total carbon output with marine shipping in Canada generating more than one billion tonnes of carbon emissions each year. Finding new ways to optimize vessel efficiencies and transition away from carbon-intense fuels is critical in greening marine shipping and helping deliver on Canada’s net-zero ambitions.
It’s through investment in new technology and innovation that Canada’s Ocean Supercluster is helping accelerate a full spectrum of solutions that provide opportunities to significantly reduce emissions now as work continues towards longer-term, carbon neutral solutions. This includes innovative transitionary fuels for vessels that require no retrofitting and deliver immediate emissions reductions — Canada’s first renewable diesel from agriculture and forestry by-products; non-toxic vessel coatings that reduce fuel consumption and radiant noise underwater — increased battery storage capabilities that make electrification of larger vessels such as ferries more viable; and leveraging other new ocean technologies for more efficient operations.
Opportunity lies ahead where solutions created for greener marine shipping are not only instrumental to contributing to a healthier planet, but also helps unlock the potential of a sustainable blue economy, and generates significant market opportunities in the process.
Making Canada’s Agriculture Sector More Sustainable — From Farm to Fork
Canada’s agricultural sector has a long track record of embracing innovation to improve productivity and decrease their environmental footprint. Today, the industry is looking for ways to improve on-farm efficiency and reduce inputs.
Over the past two years, partners Precision AI, Sure Growth Solutions, Exceed Grain Marketing, and the Global Institute for Food Security, with the support of Protein Industries Canada have worked together to develop new spraying technology that uses artificial intelligence to detect and spray weeds in fields. With its potential to significantly reduce crop inputs such as water and pesticides and lessen the number of machinery passes over each field, the technology will lower farmers’ input costs while helping the sector reach its environmental sustainability goals.
Designed by Canadians for Canadian farmers, the technology will address the needs of our country’s plant-based value chain first and foremost. It can, however, be used anywhere in the world, providing an opportunity for the partners to commercialize their new, Canadian-developed intellectual property in the international market. All combined, the new sprayer technology will help make primary production of Canada’s protein crops more sustainable both economically and sustainably while helping meet the growing global demand for protein.
Cement-Free, Carbon-Negative Concrete
Concrete is the most consumed substance on Earth after water, but the production of its key ingredient, cement, accounts for eight per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. CarbiCrete’s process for the production of precast concrete replaces cement in concrete with industrial by-products like steel slag and cures it with carbon dioxide, avoiding the GHG emissions associated with cement production, while permanently sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) within the resulting concrete products. For every ton of concrete produced using this process, 150kg of CO2 are abated/removed.
In partnership with NGen, CarbiCrete, and its project partners Patio Drummond and Innovobot Labs have embarked on an $8 million project to develop the world’s first commercially available carbon-negative concrete blocks. The industrial implementation of CarbiCrete’s advanced manufacturing process will occur at hardscape manufacturer Patio Drummond’s precast facility in Drummondville, Quebec. Project partner Innovobot Labs will build a software platform to collect data for production validation, tracking, analysis, and optimization so that the process can be easily implemented in any precast concrete plant.
Once the CarbiCrete process is fully optimized, it’ll position Canada as the undisputed world leader in sustainable concrete, enabling the partners to meet the rapidly growing global demand for sustainable building materials.