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Innovation, Technology & Government Funding Opportunities

Manufacturing in Canada by the Numbers

Canadian manufacturers have consistently been leaders in research pursuits and discoveries for advanced products and technologies. Manufacturing is an abundantly diverse and innovative sector, relying on information technologies, automation systems, materials science, among many other technologies.

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Canadian manufacturers have consistently been leaders in research pursuits and discoveries for advanced products and technologies. Manufacturing is an abundantly diverse and innovative sector, relying on information technologies, automation systems, materials science, among many other technologies.

The manufacturing sector represents a cornerstone of the modern Canadian economy. Manufacturing represents more than 10% of Canada’s total GDP, and accounts for roughly $174 billion of our overall GDP. Even greater than this, exportation conducted by manufacturers is greater than $354 billion per year, comprising 68% of all of Canada’s merchandise exports. Overall, these numbers add up to 1.7 million full-time jobs across the country. Whereas the sector continues to modernize itself, manufacturers will continue to rely on a diverse workforce made up of designers, researchers, programmers, engineers, technicians, and tradespeople. The manufacturing sector is anticipated to grow exponentially until at least 2026.

Today’s manufacturing requires constant innovation to implement new ideas and incorporate the latest production processes. As a consequence of the highly competitive nature of the global economy and the increasingly complicated supply chains, the significance of innovation will only continue to become more important. Canada’s manufacturing industry has ample opportunity for growth in Canada’s economic future. The advancements in our world mean that novel technologies are opening new markets for goods and expanding the routes in which goods are produced. Success of the industry will depend on innovation through encouraging industrial clusters that cultivate skills, technology, and knowledge. Given this growth, manufacturers act as magnets for new investments and young people to join the work force.

Innovation and Technology in the Sector:

Based on anticipated growth, companies are exploring methods to streamline manufacturing and distribution processes. Innovation is central to maintain the validity of manufacturing within today’s market, with technology-related spending increases occurring across our economy as more and more firms implement Industry 4.0 solutions for enhanced production and services. Industry 4.0 has the potential to boost productivity, reduce costs, and improve product quality. The core innovation lies in monitoring and regulating machinery and equipment in system integration, artificial intelligence (AI) sensors, robotics, machine vision and automation. These advancements have far-reaching effects in Canadian manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, automotive, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals. As technologies continue to advance step-by-step, Canadian businesses have time to adjust – but shouldn’t wait if they want to be ahead of the curve. Below are some notable examples of Canadian companies developing innovative solutions for the manufacturing sector: Eigen Innovations, based in Fredericton, uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve manufacturing efficiency. Their technology also assesses the impact of new material introductions, preventing unnecessary costs.

LaPlace Robotics in Ontario has developed a compact robot platform to automate complex handling applications through its unique vision system. Worximity helps manufacturers monitor real-time production through their sensors developed to collect data from any type or equipment or machine. Manufacturers in any industry can use the data to impact production efficiency by tracking labour, production speed and other KPIs in real time.

Funding for Canadian Manufacturers

Some of the most valuable government funding programs are specifically catered to supporting Canadian manufacturers. These government funding opportunities are a proactive means to offset a portion of all strategic project costs through grants, tax credits, and loans.

In 2017, the government of Canada implemented the Superclusters initiative and included Advanced Manfuacturing as one of the key areas of targeted growth for the future of Canadian technology. The Next Generation Supercluster (NGen) was created as a hub to facilitate growth in automation, robotics and digitization technologies. The program offers funding in the form of grants for collaborative projects that seek to enhance the manufacturing sector through the development of advanced manufacturing technologies.

The implementation of advanced manufacturing methods may require an upskilling of the workforce to work with the new processes. In these cases, the Canada Job Grant (CJG) can be leveraged to provide support with third-party training costs for both new and existing employees. The program will provide non-repayable funding for 50-100% of training costs for companies across Canada.

Other forms of various non-dilutive funding programs:

  • Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits
  • CanExport
  • Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS)
  • Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
  • Regional Development Agencies
  • Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
  • Student Work Placement Program

Co-authored by Lilja Rodway-Norman, Technical Writer, and Chloe Carloni, Director, Special Funding / Strategic Growth, at NorthBridge Consultants.

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