British Columbia’s tech industry is about to get a huge injection of funding.
The Innovation Supercluster Initiative is a scheme designed to create up to five superclusters—geographic areas with interconnected businesses and suppliers—around the country. Superclusters are often centres of innovation, and its members can compete more efficiently with national and global companies. The Innovation Supercluster Initiative was created to stimulate the country’s economy and ensure the growth of its chosen regions.
The consortium of organisations that make up the Digital Technology Supercluster, B.C.'s proposal, has committed to invest $1.4 billion over 10 years. That money will fund 100 collaborative projects, create 50,000 jobs, and inspire a projected $15 billion in GDP growth.
"It is an exciting and historic time for innovation in Canada,” says Bill Tam, co-chair of Canada's Digital Technology Supercluster consortium. “The Digital Technology Supercluster is a generational opportunity—one that holds significant promise for companies in B.C. and across Canada. Now the important work begins.”
The funding will initially be allocated to ventures in health, natural resources, and industry. Those projects will draw on Vancouver and B.C.’s expertise in data gathering and quantum computing, and create visualizations using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Three of the 100 schemes already earmarked for funding include:
• a secure, anonymous Health and Genomic Platform: this will build the systems required to allow medical specialists to create custom, leading-edge cancer treatments that are personalized to the unique genetic makeup of each patient.
• an Earth Data Store: this project will facilitate and improve data collection, sharing, and visualization in the resource sector. It will enhance how information about resource projects is shared between project proponents, Indigenous Peoples, governments, and communities.
• a Digital Learning Factory: this venture will help facilitate the development of virtual environments that enable design, rapid experimentation, and testing of cost-saving approaches to address the most significant challenges in modern manufacturing.
The cash injection will allow Metro Vancouver’s startups and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to compete globally, and expand the productivity and reach of its larger international firms.
"The Canadian Digital Technology Supercluster is a powerful example of what we can achieve together as we build a globally-recognized technology hub along the Cascadia Innovation Corridor,” says Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, in a statement. “The economic growth to be generated by the British Columbia-born consortium is a testament to how emerging technology will create new industries and jobs. Bravo to the Canadian Federal Government for making this bold investment in the future of Canada's fastest-growing tech sector.”
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