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Federal government reveals breakdown of $700 million renewed commitment to Innovation Clusters

Renewed funding follows previous lobbying efforts to increase investments into clusters.

Each of Canada’s five Global Innovation Clusters have been allotted their portion of the federal government’s cumulative $700 million renewed funding for the program, which was previously announced in Budget 2022.

Of this most recent top-up to the innovation clusters, the Advanced Manufacturing cluster was promised an up to $177 million investment; Protein Industries is set to receive $150 million; while the Digital Technology, Scale AI, and Ocean clusters are each being given up to $125 million.

The government noted that the clusters are being asked to increase industry co-investment by raising their industry match ratio.

The Government of Canada initially promised the additional funding for the clusters last year, announcing $750 million in investments to be made over the course of six years, until 2028.

Notably, the $700 million allotted this week is $50 million shy of that initial commitment. A spokesperson for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), the agency that administers the clusters initiative, told BetaKit that the financial difference was a result of the government conducting a competitive assessment process, which involved financial track record and program metrics of the clusters.

The $700 million top-up followed three of the five innovation clusters reportedly lobbying for $1.5 billion in funding renewals prior to Budget 2022 with the aim to extend their mandate.

Canada launched its innovation clusters initiative in 2017 with $950 million in funding. An additional $60 million was announced in Budget 2021.

Since the program’s inception, the federal government claims that as of December 2022, the clusters have supported more than 500 projects, involving more than 2,400 partners and generating over 850 patent applications, copyrights, trademarks, or trade secrets.

The Canadian government also said that the clusters are on track to meet or exceed its overall job creation target of 15,000 direct, indirect, and “induced” jobs by 2023, and 50,000 by 2028.

RELATED: Ocean Supercluster launches initiative to increase Indigenous participation in ocean economy

This additional funding to the clusters, according to the Government of Canada, will support the clusters in expanding their impact in Canada and beyond.

Scale AI, for example, unveiled nine new AI projects and further investments in six projects it already supports. These projects include participation from several Canadian tech startups, including Coveo, Moov AI, and Plusgrade.

Funding flows into Canada’s clusters through co-investment by government and industry, with an expectation of dollar-for-dollar matching. In this announcement, the government noted that the clusters are being asked to increase industry co-investment by raising their industry match ratio, but didn’t specify what this change will look like and when it will be implemented.

Featured image courtesy Scale AI.

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