Funding for superclusters

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada



The Innovation Superclusters Initiative is allocating a small number of high-value, strategic investments in the form of non-repayable contributions to industry-led consortia, following the completion of a two-phase application process. Contributions totaling up to $950 million are being matched with private sector investment for maximum impact.


The Innovation Superclusters Initiative, launched on May 24, 2017, is a new and uniquely Canadian initiative. The Government of Canada is working with industry in new ways—through a business-led partnership model—to align the efforts of diverse industries, researchers and intermediary institutions, and build deep, ecosystem-level advantages in regions across Canada. The Innovation Supercluster Initiative is strengthening clusters of existing commercial strength, pulling in a range of highly innovative industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as industry-relevant research talent, to create the conditions required to develop superclusters that reflect Canadian excellence and world-class leadership.

Investments are intended to accelerate commercialization, strengthen capacity in strategic platform technologies, help tackle challenges of importance to industry and take advantage of new opportunities to boost the productivity and competitiveness of Canada's sectors of economic strength.

How it worked

The launch on May 24, 2017, signalled the beginning of an application process that invited industry-driven consortia to lead and invest in bold and ambitious proposals that would supercharge their regional innovation ecosystems. The application process consisted of two phases: 1) Letter of Intent and 2) Full Application (invitation only).

The Letter of Intent phase closed on July 24, 2017. Letters of Intent were reviewed according to the assessment process and selection factors set out in the Program Guide and the most promising proposals were selected to participate in the invitation-only Full Application phase.

The deadline to submit invitation-only Full Applications was November 24, 2017. The selection process concluded with the announcement of successful superclusters on February 15, 2018.


An eligible Applicant is an industry-led consortium. An eligible Recipient of the funds is a not-for-profit corporation representing the consortium, and referred to as a "Supercluster Entity" or "Entity". To achieve the desired scale of impact, Applicants were required to:

  • pull together a critical mass of large firms, innovative SMEs, industry-relevant academic and research institutions, and other innovation partners eager to work together;
  • leverage funding from multiple private sector companies from across highly innovative industries of economic and strategic importance within the cluster; and
  • co-invest, dollar for dollar, to match the federal contribution requested and approved under the program.

To accelerate the growth and development of business-led innovation superclusters in Canada, applicants were required to set out an approach to building a supercluster advantage for their regional innovation ecosystem that would translate into new commercial and global opportunities for growth and competitiveness.

The approach had to leverage strengths, address gaps, and incent innovation ecosystem players to work together more strategically around five themes of activity for the collective benefit of the cluster:

  • Technology leadership (mandatory)—collaborative projects that directly enhance the productivity, performance and competitiveness of member firms
  • Partnerships for scale—activities serving a target group of cluster firms to enable their growth, including by increasing domestic demand for cluster products and services or by facilitating expansion
  • Diverse and skilled talent pools—activities enhancing regional labour force skills and capabilities or initiatives addressing industry needs for talent
  • Access to innovation—investing in and providing access to assets, services or resources that benefit a range of cluster firms over a period of time
  • Global advantage—activities and initiatives that position the cluster and its strengths as world-leading, enable firms to seize market opportunities, and attract international investments and partnerships

It is expected that companies and other innovation partners will benefit from their participation in activities led by the funded Entities (including via access to intellectual property generated through collaborative projects), and will participate in the governance of the Entities so that they remain responsive to industry needs and to emerging business opportunities.

How the funding decisions were made

Funding decisions considered the application's ultimate benefit to the cluster and to Canada, including how the proposal would generate real economic impact, commercial results and position Canada for global leadership.

Contact information

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