Supercluster Intended to Drive Canada’s Digital Economy

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster has announced 14 new projects with a total investment of $25 million. Eight of those projects focus on talent development for the digital economy, the other six in technology.

The Supercluster aims to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies by bringing together small, medium-sized and large companies, post-secondary institutions, research organizations and not-for-profits. The Supercluster co-invests in ambitious technology development projects and new solutions to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors and energize the economy.

The Supercluster’s Capacity Building Program creates digital skills programs and work experience for employees while building a job ready workforce for Canadian employers. These projects connect employers, educators and community organizations focused on developing world-leading talent. By developing the skilled talent industry needs, the Supercluster is supporting traditional industries in the use of innovation and technology by connecting the jobs of tomorrow with the employees of today.

For example, the Autonomous Systems Technician project will support the development of skills and training for individuals from under-represented groups so that they are ready for the digital economy. Through this project, Indigenous peoples and women will gain access to digital skills to install and maintain remote telecommunications systems that are being implemented by the resource sector.

“Technology is transforming our industry and helping to improve safety, sustainability and efficiency across the mining sector. This new program will help Indigenous Peoples and women to be part of the technological evolution in mining and take advantage of new opportunities being created,” says Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs, Teck.

The Capacity Building Program aims to capture a broader talent pool for employers by engaging under-represented groups such as women and Indigenous peoples, thereby supporting the growth of diversity and inclusion across multiple sectors. The projects also foster leadership development for entrepreneurs, deliver relevant digital skills for workers in the natural resource sector, engage Indigenous youth in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), and support the pursuit of careers in digital technology.

The Supercluster also announced investments of $20 million in six technology projects. This includes funding from the Federal Government’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry, and industry partners. These projects are solving some of the most pressing challenges in the natural resources, healthcare, and industrial sectors such as reducing pesticide use on crops, improving the management of our water resources, and ensuring Canadians have access to the best tools for early diagnosis of disease, regardless of where they live. The approved projects include: Augmented Reality for Maintenance and Inspection, Fresh Water Data Commons, Intelligent Network for Point-of-Care Ultrasound, Personal Health Wallet, Precision Agriculture to Improve Crop Health, and Reducing Opioid Use for Pain Management.

The projects announced in the Supercluster’s technology programs demonstrate the benefits of organizations working together to tackle some of the most challenging hurdles faced by major industries and sectors. Climate change, for example, is threatening food crops in Canada and around the world as pests, pathogens and viruses attack and destroy crops. The Precision Agriculture to Improve Crop Health” project will develop new pest and pathogen controls through the use of computational biochemistry, genomics, machine learning, and robotics. This novel approach aims to reduce pesticide use and will initially focus on leaf rust disease, which attacks some of Canada’s most important crops, including wheat and barley.

The Supercluster has already seen success as a result of collaboration between their members. Whether using new technology to solve problems, providing critical resources to spur innovation, or developing talent to fill critical employment opportunities, Supercluster Members are changing the way the innovation economy solves problems in Canada. ◊

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