Archive | Industry Clusters for Economic Prosperity

Why Indian Aluminium Firms Are Banking on Clusters – by Special India Correspondent (Aluminium Insider – February 21, 2018)

Leading Indian aluminium companies are turning to the cluster model to tap downstream investments and diversify aluminium applications in the country.

Both state run entities National Aluminium Company (Nalco) and Vedanta Ltd, the Indian arm of London listed metals conglomerate Vedanta Resources Plc, are developing aluminium parks to offer a conducive ecosystem to players in the downstream space.

To lure the downstream industries, both primary aluminium producers are offering a suite of incentives ranging from discounted molten aluminium supplies to concessional land plots at the parks. India’s aluminium growth story is robust. Between 2015 and 2016, the country’s total aluminium consumption expanded by 18.75 per cent, riding on increased offtake in the electrical, transportation and construction sectors. Continue Reading →

Hard work lies ahead for superclusters – by Sarah Turnbull ( – February 16, 2018)

The Liberal government’s $950 million supercluster program is being touted as a good news story Friday – despite ongoing hesitation about what comes next for the five winning projects, stakeholders say.

“It can’t just be about a billion-dollar cheque,” said Jamison Steeve, executive director of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity. “There’s an actual positive force of the government, that is as an organizer, as convener and as a cajoler.”

The five supercluster winners were announced Thursday and are distributed fairly evenly across the country, with hubs being located in British Columbia, the Prairies, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. This is causing a bit of eyebrow raising within the tech circle, he said. Continue Reading →

Well, there’s $950 million we didn’t need to spend – by Andrew Coyne (National Post – February 17, 2018)

Recipients of Superclusters cash don’t have to persuade consumers of the value of what they produce. They just have to be good at lobbying the federal Liberals

If you were to leave $950 million at the corner of Bloor and Yonge in downtown Toronto — in packets of twenties, it would create a pile roughly 1.45 metres square by 2.6 metres high — I can guarantee you the result would be a substantial boost to economic activity.

People in the area would pick up the money and spend it on goods and services. With such a sudden influx of cash in search of something to spend it on, factories would have to step up production; distributors and retailers would take on staff.

These new hires would spend their wages on more goods and services, leading to yet more new hires and so on. With such “spin-offs” included, the economic impact of dumping all that cash on the ground could be multiples of the initial outlay. Continue Reading →

Federal government names winners of $950-million ‘supercluster’ funding – by Sean Silcoff (Globe and Mail – February 16, 2018)

The federal government unveiled the winners of its flagship innovation funding program on Thursday, committing $950-million to five industry consortiums drawn from hundreds of companies, research institutions and industry groups that don’t typically collaborate but that Ottawa hopes will create economic growth by combining forces.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said the goal was to create “a made-in-Canada Silicon Valley” that will add billions of dollars to the GDP and get businesses to invest heavily in research and development – and create 50,000 jobs.

The winners represented a broad cross-section of industry and academic players, which Mr. Bains said was the government’s intent. “This was about seeing how the private sector can step up,” he said in an interview. “We wanted to see more collaboration … more ambition” on the part of Canadian industry. Continue Reading →


Industry remains committed to investing in mining innovation

Ottawa, February 15, 2018 – The consortium behind the CLEER supercluster proposal remains committed to transforming Canada’s mining industry through innovation, despite not being amongst the five projects selected by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for supercluster funding.

The Canadian mining industry developed the pan-Canadian supercluster initiative, CLEER (Clean, Low-Energy, Effective, Engaged and Remediated) to power clean growth through mining innovation. The CLEER submission was prepared on behalf of the mining sector by CEMI, CIMRE, CMIC, COREM, IMII, and MSTA. The CLEER proposal was one of nine projects that was shortlisted by the federal government and the only proposal focused on clean resources.

“We thank Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for considering the CLEER proposal and are honoured to have been a finalist. While we are disappointed with the final outcome, we remain optimistic, firmly committed to mining innovation and working towards building up this significant initiative,” stated Adrian McFadden, Chair of the CLEER Interim Board. Continue Reading →

Mining as a nation-builder: CEMI among six groups forming supercluster to bring clean Canadian mining expertise to the international market – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – December 1, 2017)

For six mining groups in Canada that have joined together, including one in Sudbury, mining is a nation-building exercise they want to take to the world. The hope is by joining together, they can qualify for government funding to help them support the mining industry on a holistic level.

Sudbury-based Centre for Mining Innovation (CEMI) is among the group that are pursuing a $200 million funding initiative to move their supercluster forward. Titled Clean, Low-energy, Effective, Engaged and Remediated (CLEER), to compete for funding though the federal government’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative.

The are many reasons for bringing this supercluster together, explained Charles Nyabeze, director, government affairs for CEMI, all of them go back to making mining in Canada more competitive, cleaner, diverse and showing the public the importance of mining to the nation’s economic stability. Continue Reading →

Sudbury part of mining ‘supercluster’ proposal – by Staff (Sudbury Star – October 12, 2017)

A group that includes Sudbury’s Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation has made the shortlist of groups that could receive funding under the Ottawa’s $950-million “supercluster” program.

The federal government has whittled down its list of finalists from more than 50 proposals to nine, according to a list supplied to the Financial Post by the ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The supercluster program is part of a sizeable spending push by the Trudeau Liberals to spur Canadian innovation.

Ottawa opened up its bidding process last May, and received proposals from more than 1,000 private companies, business associations and research institutions. Continue Reading →

Sudbury cluster plays key role in health and safety – by David Robinson (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – September 2017)


Mining is still one of the most dangerous industries in the world. According to the International Labour Organization, while mining employs around one per cent of the global labour force, it generates eight per cent of fatal accidents. As bad as it seems, there has been an enormous improvement. Safety in mining is now an obsession.

Safety has become a key target for the mining industry in developed countries, and standards are rising around the world. Some countries have a long way to go. China, for example, accounts for 40 per cent of global coal output, but 80 per cent of the world’s mining deaths. The artisanal and small mining sector, which may have as many as 50 million people working in it, is largely unregulated and undocumented. The number of deaths and injuries in the sector are unknown.

What is known at the global level is that health and safety progress in the mining sector has been astonishing. The deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history, for example, was 1907, when an estimated 3,242 deaths occurred. The number fell to 19 in 2002. China is claiming an 80 per cent reduction in deaths in its coal industry. Continue Reading →

Ottawa to kick off $950-million innovation ‘supercluster’ competition – by Sean Silcoff (Globe and Mail – May 24, 2017)

OTTAWA — The federal government will kick off the centrepiece of its innovation agenda Wednesday by officially launching a program that will disburse $950-million to as many as five “supercluster” initiatives geared toward creating high-paying jobs in fast-growing sectors.

Initial applications for the funds will be due July 21 from industry-led consortiums in eight high-potential sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health-bioscience, clean resources, infrastructure and transportation. Shortlisted applicants will have until Oct. 20 to submit detailed proposals, and the government plans to select the winners by year’s end.

“This initiative is about government partnering with industry, academia and communities to build on our strengths to develop the economy and the jobs of the future,” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said in an interview. Continue Reading →

Key measures aimed at energizing Canadian high-tech clusters, like those in Ottawa-Gatineau – by James Bagnall (Ottawa Sun – March 23, 2017)

Perhaps we should be a little insulted. There’s a section in Wednesday’s federal budget that highlights how a multitude of measures aimed at accelerating innovation are supposed to work.

The government wants us to create innovation superclusters — “dense areas of business activity” capable of attracting the very best talent and companies from around the world. To give us an idea of what these look like, the budget lists four urban areas that have already achieved this distinction: California’s Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tel Aviv and the Toronto-Waterloo corridor.

A nod in the direction of the capital region would have been nice. While it’s true Ottawa and Gatineau long ago lost the distinction of being the planet’s most important supercluster in matters of telecommunications technology, the cities’ innovators are mounting an impressive comeback. Continue Reading →

Morneau’s ‘clusters’ may not be an economic silver bullet – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – March 22, 2017)

The finance minister points to clusters as the basis for his innovation agenda. But studies show they may not be effective tools for public policy.

Budget day. Astute in the photo-op department, Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be sporting his ethically-sourced, made-in-Mexico Poppy Barley lace-ups. Poppy Barley is Edmonton based, so the finance minister gets a gold star for supporting Canadian business.

The custom shoe company was founded by sisters Justine and Kendall Barber, so two gold stars for championing women entrepreneurs. And Poppy Barley is transparent in its supply chain, so let’s give the finance minister full marks for ingenuity. How successful Morneau will be in selling his innovation agenda, however, is a different order of business.

This time last year the finance minister’s “Growing the Middle Class” budget highlighted a four-year, $800-million commitment “to support innovation networks and clusters” as part of that agenda. Continue Reading →

Governments can’t find the ‘secret sauce’ of Silicon Valley – by Alex Whalley and Trevor Tombe (Financial Post – November 30, 2016)

“We should not be known for our resources,” said Prime Minister Trudeau at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, “but for our resourcefulness.” With that in mind, the government has put innovation policy near the top of its agenda and recently announced $800 million for a “cluster networks strategy” where Ottawa will focus innovation subsidies on particular industries and locations. Though it is receiving much attention, it may not be smart policy.

First, innovation is but a means to the end of higher living standards and productivity. Based on the most recent data from the Penn World Table (the leading source for international comparisons), Canada is about 20 per cent less productive than the United States — equivalent to a staggering $15,000 in lost economic output per person per year. Ottawa is right to focus on closing this gap.

But to improve productivity, developing new technologies ourselves is not the only way. Adopting better technologies from elsewhere has value too, but this is often neglected or explicitly inhibited. Consider municipal restrictions on Uber or Airbnb, or federal restrictions on foreign activity in telecom or airlines. Continue Reading →

As tech clusters spread, a fight to be Silicon Valley North – by Sunny Freeman (Toronto Star – August 29, 2016)

The stretch of the 401 that connects Toronto with Kitchener-Waterloo has many hallmarks similar to California’s Highway 101.

Ooka Island is a rapidly growing learn-to-read software startup with roots planted in the red soil of Prince Edward Island. But when the Charlottetown-based company planned to get serious about bringing its product to market, it needed to expand to an urban centre close to venture capitalists, a pool of skilled labour and a broader customer base.

“Once you get to the product validation stage it is hard to be on an island far away,” said Kelly Shaw, CEO of Ooka Island. “We needed an office in Toronto so we had access to a much bigger market and a much bigger network.”

Ooka Island moved into a co-sharing space at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District nearly two years ago. Its neighbours include other startups, advisors and investors and tech giants such as Facebook, Etsy and Airbnb. Continue Reading →

Mission impossible: mining suppliers to save the world – by David Robinson (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – August 22, 2016)

The mining supply sector is invisible, disrespected and dumb, but it could be responsible for saving the world

Invisible for two reasons. The first is just statistical. According to the Standard Industrial Classification, there is no mining supply industry. Firms from hundreds of industries supply the mining sector.

That is why the distinguished Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity in Toronto failed to notice a mining supply cluster in Sudbury for the second time when it published its second inventory of Canadian clusters. They couldn’t see what Statistics Canada didn’t measure.

The mining supply sector is also invisible because it is dumb — dumb in the dictionary sense of “unable to speak.” Mining suppliers are diverse, geographically scattered, generally small and largely unorganized. Few are fully specialized in mining. They are defined in terms of the industry they supply. Continue Reading →

‘The Smartest Places on Earth’ – by Van Agtmael and Bakker – by Shawn Donnan (Financial Times – March 13, 2016)

An optimist’s guide to the rust belt revival

For years the dominant narrative about the American rust belt has been one of decline and decimation — a once-thriving industrial core turned into a dystopian wasteland by the winds of free trade and persistent undercutting by China.

But in The Smartest Places on Earth, former financier Antoine van Agtmael and journalist Fred Bakker make a courageous case for an alternative vision. What if the real story of the rust belt these days is one of reinvention? What if we ought to consider these regions “the emerging hotspots of global innovation”?

It is a courageous argument because it goes against the political grain in America. Eight years after the global financial crisis, the US is reaping the political damage of not just the crisis but also of the decades-long economic patterns blamed for hollowing out the manufacturing sector and the middle class. Continue Reading →