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Innovating with Canada

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Those of you who are interested in exploring global opportunities will have seen the excellent blogs by my colleagues; all highlighting opportunities around funding programmes for business led-collaborative innovation.

Innovate UK has delivered an unprecedented amount of support through bilateral initiatives for innovative businesses to go global over the past 3 years. We have opened over 20 competitions (an offer of over £50m in funding) with countries such as China, India and Brazil and have taken entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in markets such as USA, Singapore and Malaysia.

We are developing strong links with Canada – and so you should expect to hear and see more about our joint work with the Great White North over the next few months. But why Canada?

Canadian maple leaf in the centre of the image with lines of maple leaves at both edges in the style of the Canadian national flag.

Why Canada?

We have listened to you! Our Lead Innovators, Catapults, KTN and EEN colleagues have fed back the numerous opportunities across a range of technologies and business areas for collaboration with Canada – from HVM through to Agritech.

We want to build on the joint success achieved through Horizon 2020 (around 250 collaborations between UK and CA partners) and the Eureka programme. The desire for collaboration with us from Canada has been fully reciprocated. “We’re in a global innovation race” said Canada’s Innovation and Science Minister Bains earlier this month.

Sometimes it makes sense to work together with your partners in a relay race – and that is the key thinking and drive behind our burgeoning collaboration framework.

image shown of team using Element AI technology in Canada.
Using Element AI technology in Canada

A boost in innovation spend

Canada has taken forward an innovation renaissance over the past 2 years – with unprecedented levels of public and private investment. While I was in Canada in September as part of a deep dive into the AI and digital eco-system (and a blog on that will follow shortly), the government in Ottawa announced the shortlist of companies to receive funding under its $950-million supercluster program, part of a sizable innovation spending push by PM Trudeau.

The superclusters are aimed at creating a hive of innovation, similar to that which surrounds our own innovation hotspots and centres of excellence, such as the Catapults. They will be made of businesses, researchers centres, investors and other stakeholders who collaborate and share ideas in an effort to speed up technological and commercial solutions. And so there is an excellent opportunity to connect our ecosystem to these superclusters to create win-win situations.

Canada has also opened several other programmes to grow its innovation capability, including ambition to introduce $1.4 billion in clean tech funding.

Canada roundtable group of people sitting at a boardroom table.
Canada roundtable

Shared ambition for global success

In August 2017, I joined a senior delegation from Innovate UK accompanied by BEIS to meet with key Ministries and innovation funding agencies in Ottawa. We jointly explored a number of opportunities for both the UK and Canada to accelerate economic growth, through business-led innovation, in a number of key shared global ambitions.

Over the years Canada and UK have built strong sound foundations, we have significant complementary capabilities between our nations. We have a number of corporations with footprints which span the UK and Canada. We have a great deal of common ground in our thinking towards accelerating economic growth through business-led innovation.  And a shared ambition for the joint opportunity to tackle the global markets of the future.

The culmination of this work was the joint statement of intent/MoU between the UK and Canada during the PMs Visit to Ottawa last month. So we now have the framework to build on that commitment.

Our collaboration with Canada is focused on building and accelerating businesses of the future between two advanced knowledge based economies. This collaboration will build on established areas of industrial strengths in both countries and focus on technology and innovation areas with significant potential for growth not just in each other markets but on a global scale, namely: Advanced Manufacturing, Quantum Tech, Clean Tech, Agri-tech, AI and Connected Autonomous Vehicles.

torn image which reveals words 'whats next' underneath

What next?

Over the next few months we will continue to explore opportunities and work with Canadian partners to develop a programme of activity. I am delighted to say that we have a new North America lead in Innovate UK, Brendan Vickers, and he will be tasked with working across our 4 sectors to strengthen and develop tangible opportunities for UK businesses, including business missions in areas such as High Value Manufacturing. My colleagues from across Innovate UK will provide regular updates – from the exciting AI scene in Quebec and Ontario, to the fantastic opportunities for UK business in food and Agritech in Alberta and Saskatchewan. As an active participant in Eurostars (under the Eureka programme), CA businesses are already working in partnership with UK business. Our aim is to build on this and grow our economies – together!

VR being used in Canada by 2 people with 1 person using a laptop.
Testing VR in Canada

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