Friday, October 13, 2017

Short List for the $950Mln CDN Supercluster Initiative

          By Henry Stewart

The Canadian government has selected nine consortium's for its supercluster program shortlist, including the MOST21 aerospace focused bid led by Montreal-based flight simulator maker CAE Inc., and an agrifood focused proposal spearheaded by Calgary-based Agrium Inc., which includes Richmond BC based MacDonald Dettwiler (soon to be re-branded as "MDA" in much the same way as what was once Kentucky Fried Chicken is now known only as "KFC").

Screenshot of the MOST21 website taken on October 13th, 2017. The Canadian aerospace community is mostly on-board with this choice. As outlined in the October 10th, 2017 Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) post, "AIAC Applauds Shortlisting of Aerospace Supercluster," quoted AIAC president and CEO Jim Quick as expressing his "delight" at the choice. The October 10th, 2017 CARIC newsletter quoted Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC) CEO Denis Faubert as stating that, "It’s a strong message from the mobility industry: a willingness to participate actively to the creation of jobs and wealth in Canada. This supercluster may become a major player and narrative for Canada’s role on the international scene." Graphic c/o MOST21.

As outlined in the August 31st, 2017 post, "MacDonald Dettwiler is Part of an Alberta Based Agrifood ‘Supercluster’ Proposal," the agrifood proposal plans to explore the uses of satellite data and other technology to improve crop yields.

Left out of the final selection is Satellite Canada which, as announced in the August 3rd, 2017 post, "Satellite Canada Applies for Innovation SuperCluster Funds," put together a consortium of thirty-nine Canadian space focused corporations, associations and academic institutions willing to contribute time, effort and up to $328Mln CDN, to apply for the Federal supercluster matching funds.

An overview of the nine remaining successful applicants is included with the October 10th, 2017 Globe and Mail post, "Short list for $950 million supercluster initiative revealed." For more on the program, its worth checking out the October 12th, 2017 Federal government Innovation superclusters initiative (ISI): Program guide.

Final bids, due from the shortlisted groups by November 24th, could end up being different from the current shortlist. The consortiums have been encouraged to add more participants, including those from unsuccessful applications, in order to create “more ambitious job-creation plans.”

It's also worth noting that not everyone is enamored with the supercluster concept. A good place to start exploring that is the October 11th, 2017 Financial Post article, "Tech accelerators are booming — what's not clear is whether they work."

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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