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About Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative

Canada's Superclusters

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What is a Supercluster?

Clusters are areas of intense business activity made up of companies, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations that boost innovation and growth in a particular industry. Silicon Valley is an example of well-known cluster, and there are many more around the world.

A Supercluster is a made-in-Canada approach, where clusters have been supercharged with up to approximately $1 billion in federal government funding, matched dollar-for-dollar by industry.

Each Supercluster is unique. But they are usually made up of:

  • large and small companies
  • researchers and academics
  • not-for-profit organizations
  • accelerators and incubators
illustration of five blocks of superclusters: Entrepreneur, Academics, Capital, Government and Not-for-profit

How this program can help you

Superclusters encourage industry leaders, small and medium-sized companies and post-secondary institutions to collaborate on large-scale projects, in order to speed up growth in some of Canada's most promising industries:

As these industries grow and their ecosystems strengthen, they become global leaders, which boosts Canada's economy by creating jobs and attracting investments and talent to Canada.

Superclusters help by:

Canada's Superclusters are also helping to build a skilled and diverse workforce by:

Over the next 10 years, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will be measuring the success of Canada's Superclusters. This monitoring will help to ensure that Superclusters reaches its goal of creating 50 thousand jobs and $50 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

How we're working with industry

The Superclusters program is led by ISED. But each Supercluster is an independent, not-for-profit entity with its own industry-led board of directors, responsible for:

It's a unique business model that allows Superclusters to move at the speed of business.

Funding flows into Canada's Superclusters through co-investment by government and industry, with an expectation of dollar-for-dollar matching. So far, industry investment has surpassed this expectation.

In February 2018, ISED announced its investment in Canada's five Superclusters through five non-repayable contributions:

up to
$173M*

Digital Technology

up to
$173M*

Protein Industries

up to
$250M*

Advanced Manufacturing

up to
$230M*

Scale AI

up to
$153M*

Ocean

asterix * The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is investing up to approximately $1 billion over five years. This includes $950 million announced in Budget 2017 and an additional $60 million announced in Budget 2021 of which $20 million each was allocated to the Digital Technology, Protein Industries and Advanced Manufacturing Superclusters.

Intellectual Property is a key program consideration

The government supports the strategic use of intellectual property (IP) to help businesses grow. As companies come together to work on projects through the Superclusters, they can generate IP assets, such as inventions, technologies, software, proprietary information, brands, etc., all of which can be protected with certain IP rights.

That's why one key feature of the Supercluster program's approach encourages the strategic management of IP, and it is built into the framework of the program. For example, each Supercluster must set out an IP strategy, hire an in-house IP manager and , create an IP database for its members. In addition, partners must develop an IP agreement for each collaborative technology leadership project.

Each Supercluster's IP Strategy must:

  • ensure that IP is developed and managed in the most accessible way for its members (i.e. it has to spell out how a Supercluster will encourage new collaborations)
  • strike a balance between providing access to IP that will promote innovation and IP that will protect members' commercial interests
  • allow for all project partners, from small and medium companies to non-profits, to be able to make independent decisions on how to use that IP

Each Supercluster's IP Manager:

  • is a dedicated expert resource for the Supercluster (since many small and medium size companies do not have access to in-house IP expertise) and provides training
  • helps members identify opportunities to use IP developed through Supercluster projects
  • manages the Supercluster's IP database and reports on its progress

Each Supercluster's IP Database:

  • contains information about all of its IP assets
  • gives members an easier way to take out licenses on its project-generated IP
  • encourages members to share their IP for stronger innovation and collaboration

Each Supercluster's collaborative technology leadership projects are required to have an IP agreement that:

  • provides an overview of the IP that is expected to be generated in the project
  • provides the ownership and licensing terms of the expected IP

History of the program

The search for Canada's Superclusters started on May 24, 2017 as part of the Innovation and Skills Plan in the 2017 Budget.

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative was launched through a two-phase competitive process.

The first phase of this process, which accepted letters of intent, closed on July 24, 2017. Only the most promising proposals moved ahead to the full application phase.

The successful Superclusters were announced on February 15, 2018:

The Superclusters were chosen based on:

Contact us

For any other questions you might have about the program, read our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact us.

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