Canadian government launches a 950 million CAD superclusters initiative

Submitted by Lucia Seel on 07 June 2017

During the presentation of the 2017 budget on 22 March 2017, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the setup of an ambitious Innovation and Skills Plan “to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation”.[1] Overall, the government intends to invest about  $950 million CAD over five years (€655.5 million[2]) to develop superclusters in six key national industries; the creation of Innovation Canada to be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and start-ups; and also $50 million CAD (€34.5 million) to launch Innovative Solutions Canada – a government procurement program modeled after the United States’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program[3].

ISED (Innovation, Science and Economic Development) Canada defines superclusters as “innovation hotbeds” that build on the advantages of clusters, “dense area of business activity containing a critical mass of large and small companies, post-secondary and other research institutions.”

According to the 2017 budget proposal, superclusters will focus on the following target sectors[4]:

  1. advanced manufacturing,
  2. agri-food
  3. clean technology,
  4. digital industries,
  5. health/bio-sciences,
  6. clean resources,
  7. infrastructure and transportation.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development , the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains MP, explained that the government would be “very strategic and thoughtful, and identify maybe three to five clusters in Canada that can be global centres of excellence[5][6]. One can therefore expect the competition to be intense. 

According to official governmental sources, the launch on May 24, 2017, signalled the beginning of a two-phase application process that invites industry-driven consortia to lead and invest in bold and ambitious proposals that will supercharge their regional innovation ecosystems. The application process will consist of two phases: 1) Letter of Intent and 2) Full Application (invitation only). Letters of Intent will be reviewed against assessment criteria and the most promising proposals will be selected to participate in the invitation-only Full Application phase.

The deadline to submit a Letter of Intent is July 21, 2017 at 12pm (noon) Eastern Daylight Time.

The government’s budget plan regarding the development of the superclusters is the following:







$50 million CAD

$250 million CAD

$250 million CAD

$250 million CAD

$150 million CAD

$950 million CAD          

Citing models of successful clusters of the Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tel Aviv and the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, the Canadian government set out its vision of “what superclusters would look like”[7]:


Risk sharing to develop platform technologies and disruptive technologies that will boost Canada’s competitiveness in areas of economic strength (e.g. advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital economy, health/bio-sciences, clean resources, and infrastructure and transportation).


Strong connections between businesses, from large anchor firms to start-ups, post-secondary institutions and research institutions that support private sector-led research and development that is linked to commercial outcomes with application in the real economy.


Create opportunities to grow Canadian companies through globally integrated supply chains.


Diverse and skilled talent pools enhanced by advisory services and business mentoring for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises that lead to opportunities for Canadians to access high-value, well-paying jobs.


Focus on innovative solutions that will improve the quality of life of Canadians and allow businesses to better perform in a competitive environment.


[1] 2017 budget, Government of Canada:

[2] Oanda, CAD 1: EUR 0.69005 EUR, 24th of April 2017

[3] SSTI website:





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