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Q&A with Minister Champagne: How Canada Excels at Fostering Innovation

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, shares the key factors that make Canada home to so many groundbreaking innovations.

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Canada has a reputation for fostering innovation and creativity. Could you share some recent success stories that highlight Canadian ingenuity and the positive impact of innovation on our economy?

Canada is interested in spurring a knowledge-based, innovative, and competitive economy. Innovation is critical for increasing productivity and that’s why our government has supported and invested in areas where we can be leaders, such as electric vehicles and batteries, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technology. The soon-to-be-launched Canada Innovation Corporation has a specific innovation mandate, and has been designed to be value-added to the innovation ecosystem and to complement existing players.

Also, our Global Innovation Clusters are helping to build first-rate innovation ecosystems with a competitive edge, bringing organizations together and generating bold new ideas. Each of the clusters has numerous successes to share:

  • The Digital Technology Cluster and its ecosystem have created attractive sustainable solutions that natural resource businesses are using to transform their operations. For example, the Discovery Platform developed by Ideon Technologies makes it possible for mining exploration companies to precision-target deposits beneath the Earth’s surface in a way that changes the economics of discovery and increases the sustainable production of the critical mineral resources needed to fuel the clean energy transition.
  • Thanks to the support of the Protein Industries Cluster, businesses in the plant-based food, feed, and ingredients ecosystem are advancing the development of cutting-edge technologies. Crush Dynamics is a great example: the B.C.-based company has a patent-pending targeted fermentation process that transforms grape derivatives from the wine industry into tasty and healthy food ingredients while reducing overall agricultural waste.
  • The Advanced Manufacturing Cluster is helping to move Canadian manufacturing to net-zero. One example is CarbiCrete’s process of creating carbon-negative concrete without the use of cement.
  • Canada’s Ocean Cluster has spent the last five years working with its ocean ecosystem partners to increase the environmental sustainability of Canada’s and the world’s ocean economies. As the cluster enters its second phase of operations, it’s expanding and intensifying collaborations to move the ocean economy and the country closer to net zero. An example is the Sustainable Protein for Aquaculture Project, which takes greenhouse gas emissions from upstream oil and gas operations and converts them into a high-value protein product to feed farmed fish.
  • The Scale AI Cluster is strengthening small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by connecting them to customers and supply chains, helping them build strong networks and leverage expertise, and supporting start up, scale up, and access to new markets like never before. An example is Montreal-based SME Osedea, which is helping a Canadian-based multi-national company, Kruger, to put in place a digital twin of its supply chain. The digital twin, which incorporates predictive and prescriptive AI capabilities, lets Kruger look at the entire supply chain system, identifying opportunities to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency, and produce a smaller carbon footprint via lower greenhouse gas emissions.
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Collaboration is often a catalyst for innovation. How do you plan to encourage partnerships between industry, academia, and government to create a thriving ecosystem that fosters innovative ideas and solutions?

Our country is home to world-class researchers who generate groundbreaking technologies and innovations, and their work in collaboration with industry partners delivers solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.  

For example, our government is helping to connect the best and brightest talent with innovative businesses by providing funding to organizations such as Mitacs and by investing in the College and Community Innovation program.

As knowledge and talent are key competitive advantage in driving Canadian innovation, we’re committed to working with post-secondary institutions and businesses to help cement Canada’s position as a world leader in research and innovation.

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your opinion, what are the key factors that have contributed to Canada’s success as an innovative nation? And how do you plan to build upon these strengths to further enhance Canadian innovation?

We have everything we need to thrive: our workforce is one of the most educated in the world, we have world-class research institutions and abundant sources of clean energy, we’re the only country in the world with free-trade access to the entire G7 and European Union, we have strong and thriving ecosystems, and we have access to critical minerals, which are in high demand these days.

As a strong, stable, and reliable trading nation, Canada’s prosperity depends on the exchange of ideas and goods, and on building a skilled workforce. That’s why we’re committed to expanding our trade ties, unlocking investment opportunities, and doing everything possible to remain a top destination for businesses. 

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