Canada’s superclusters await fate in budget as funding dwindles – by Sean Silcoff and Josh O’Kane (Globe and Mail – April 5, 2022)

It was the centrepiece of the federal Liberal government’s first innovation strategy: a $950-million “supercluster” program aimed at bringing together academia and business to collaborate in unprecedented ways, spinning out companies and creating jobs, economic growth and intellectual property.

Critics questioned it from the start as a potential superboondoggle with vague objectives and inadequate focus on keeping valuable intellectual property (IP) in Canada.

The Parliamentary Budget Office in 2020 criticized the program for being slow to roll out and unlikely to reach job targets. Many industry groups questioned whether it would improve Canada’s chronic weaknesses: productivity and research-and-development spending. The economic disruption of the pandemic didn’t help.

With Ottawa’s committed funding set to end next March, will Thursday’s budget give superclusters a supershot of funding to keep going – or could other priorities sideline the controversial program?

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