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Canada’s Investment in Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing is quickly becoming a staple in Canada’s industrial sector. Manufacturing companies throughout the country are realizing the positive impact digital adoption of smart technologies has on their production operations. Canadian manufacturers are investing in several advanced technologies — including automation, artificial intelligence, and additive manufacturing — to remain competitive in global markets.

This investment in advanced manufacturing doesn’t stop with industrial companies — the Canadian government and higher education institutions are also contributing to this sector’s growth. The focus on advanced manufacturing within the country is helping to position Canada as a leader of manufacturing innovation and industrial digitalization. Canada’s investment in advanced manufacturing is paving the way for the country to become a manufacturing powerhouse.

The Canadian Government’s Support of Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing has a significant impact on the Canadian economy. This industry adds $185 billion dollars to the country’s GDP, has created 1.7 million jobs, and is responsible for $360 billion in annual exports. The notable economic impact has drawn interest — and funding — from the Canadian government to support advanced manufacturing and attract new manufacturing business.

Several advanced manufacturing initiatives have received funding from the Canadian government to expand digital adoption within the industrial sector. Some recent investments include $177 million from the Canadian government to Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen). NGen is the organization behind Canada’s Global Innovation Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing. The advanced manufacturing cluster is one of five clusters supported by Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters Initiative.

According to its website, NGen “bring(s) together advanced manufacturing and technology to drive digital transformation in Canada.” This nonprofit organization works to progress advanced manufacturing in Canada to deliver better products to Canadians, generate good jobs, and stimulate economic growth.  

Another example of the Canadian government investing in advanced manufacturing is its recent funding of the Technology Investment Program. Launched by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) organization, this program aims to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers in Southern Ontario adopt advanced manufacturing technologies.

CME has partnered with the Canadian government’s Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to fund this program. FedDev Ontario is providing $8.8 million in funding to the Technology Investment Program. This money will go directly to eligible manufacturing companies in the form of a matched contribution of up to $50,000 per manufacturer. The contribution will provide monetary support to help Canadian manufacturers invest in long-term production assets and advanced manufacturing technologies.

Canada’s Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing

As the organization managing the Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing, NGen uses the government’s investment in this program to advance Canadian manufacturing. To date, the government has provided $427 million in funding for this innovation cluster. A portion of the funding is used to invest in advanced manufacturing projects throughout Canada.

The Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing focuses on four smart technologies: machine learning, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, and additive manufacturing. NGen supports projects that leverage these and other smart technologies to further Canada’s advanced manufacturing capabilities. The projects will help improve and scale up production capabilities for manufacturers throughout Canada.

Two such projects have already received funding from NGen to further digital adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies. One was led by Canadian steel company ArcelorMittal Dofasco. This project resulted in the creation of a smart technology platform to digitally transform one of the company’s metallurgy facilities. Though these results benefited ArcelorMittal Dofasco, the project also helped the manufacturing community better understand the digitalization process in a heavy manufacturing environment.

The second project, led by Aspire Food Group, is a work in progress that aims to develop the world’s first fully automated insect protein manufacturing site. The site will incorporate automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and analytics. Aspire Food Group will leverage these advanced technologies to develop a modular protein production system that the company intends to deploy globally. Not only will this project help grow the Canadian advanced manufacturing ecosystem and the economy, but it could also be the answer to addressing global food insecurity.

Canadian Educational Institutions Driving Advanced Manufacturing

Canada’s manufacturing workforce is lacking in knowledgeable, skilled workers. Multiple educational institutions throughout Canada recognize this need and are implementing new programs and courses to help enhance the manufacturing workforce. One of these educational institutions is the Toronto Institute of Advanced Manufacturing (TIAM) at the University of Toronto.

The mission of TIAM is to accelerate the research and development of advanced manufacturing technologies. Working with Canada’s manufacturing sector to turn innovative ideas into products, the institute conducts research on advanced materials and manufacturing with a focus on biotechnology, energy, nanotechnology, and sustainability. TIAM also works to improve advanced manufacturing processes and systems, and manufacturing planning and management. The University of Toronto offers advanced manufacturing studies as a degree program to both undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to TIAM, the University of Toronto also recently established a new metal additive manufacturing laboratory. The laboratory specializes in two metal additive manufacturing techniques: laser beam powder bed fusion and directed energy deposition. Additionally, the research in this lab focuses on advanced steels, high-entropy alloys, and nickel-based superalloys.

While the University of Toronto is a prime example of a Canadian educational institution investing in advanced manufacturing, it is not the only one. With the help of advanced manufacturing courses and programs such as those offered by the University of Manitoba and NGen’s Careers of the Future — aimed at Canadian high school students — advanced manufacturing is becoming a practical and rewarding career pathway for younger generations.

These are just a few examples of the multiple sectors working together to invest in Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem and expand manufacturing innovation within the country. If you want to learn more about Canada’s investment in advanced manufacturing and the push toward digital adoption in production operations, attend CMTS.