Archived — Speech for Polytechnics Canada Annual General Meeting

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The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Kitchener, Ontario
May 11, 2010

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Good morning ladies and gentlemen, friends and honoured guests.

I'm pleased to be here with you this morning as we recognize the accomplishments and progress of polytechnic research in the last year, and to share with you our government's position as we continue to move forward.

Being in this room, I can feel the enthusiasm and collective energy of the great ideas, great minds and great talent that are gathered here today.

I know that we share similar goals—to see that Canada continues to excel in research, science and technology and to push the envelope so that Canadian industry can run better.

One subject that I want to talk about, which I know is of particular interest to all of us, is innovation.

From the discovery of insulin in the 1920s to the invention of the Blackberry in the 1990s, it's clear that Canadians have a recognized track record for innovative ideas that expand worldwide.

Our government recognizes that innovation is vital to stimulating productivity, competitiveness and growth.

This is why we remain committed to our approach to building an innovative, technology-rich and knowledge-based economy. I know you will agree —this is the economy of the future.

In recent months, I have met with workers, community leaders, academics and business leaders to listen to their ideas about how we create this type of economy and environment.

No matter where I went—the message was clear. One of Ontario's greatest strengths is the research being carried out at our world-class universities, colleges and other academic institutions.

But people also told me that more needs to be done to help commercialize this research so that we can grow our small- and medium-sized businesses into global leaders.

When organizations from different sectors work together, the result can be game-changing innovation.

Increasingly, that's the way that innovation comes about—not through the isolated actions of individual players, but through the collaborative efforts of many.

This means that when government works together with academia and the private sector, we can ensure that Canada leads the way.

One of the key ways we can do that is through investing heavily in science and technology to improve the prospects for Canada's long-term competitiveness and contribute to our national prosperity.

We recognize that research funding is an investment that always has a positive return—in scientific discovery, in new ideas and products, in job creation, and as a hedge against tough economic conditions.

To encourage new ideas and products, our government has committed to a number of initiatives under Canada's Economic Action Plan—including bolstering our Science and Technology Strategy, opening the doors to venture capital for technology companies, and creating a comprehensive digital economy strategy.

This year's budget provided close to $1.4 billion in science and technology investments over five years, building on approximately $5 billion previously announced in Budget 2009. Together this represents one of the single largest federal investments in science and technology to date.

Canada's Economic Action Plan also invested heavily in sectors where much research and development takes place. We introduced the $2-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Program to improve aging infrastructure at Canadian post-secondary institutions, and we worked quickly to deliver the funding. Approximately 35% of the program's total funding will support colleges.

Under Budget 2010, leading the way on jobs and growth, the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Innovation Commercialization Program was also established, with a $40 million national budget over two years.

Because our government saw the impact that the economic recession had on the unique industrial and manufacturing-based economy of southern Ontario, last year's Economic Action Plan also announced the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Since beginning operations, the Agency, which we call FedDev Ontario, has been supporting initiatives that are creating jobs and forging new opportunities throughout the Region.

As Minister of State for the Agency I'm proud to say we've made tremendous progress in a short period of time, and I'm sure Agency president Dr. Bruce Archibald, who you will hear from later this morning, would say the same. We have announced more than $450 million in economic stimulus funding which is at work in communities across southern Ontario right now.

Our initial focus has been to get southern Ontario residents back to work and get the economy moving again. And I'm pleased that we are seeing signs of growth everywhere. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, Ontario has added 143,000 new jobs since last May.

Our mandate is to create high-quality jobs that will support the economy of tomorrow, which we must be able to actively participate in to remain competitive. As you all know, polytechnic research plays a central role in this.

By focusing on building the high-skilled jobs and industries of tomorrow, the agency will continue to play a key role in supporting small- and medium-sized businesses, manufacturers and community organizations to ensure that the region's growth will be sustainable.

We're doing this by investing in companies that are diversifying. We're also supporting promising research, commercialization and cutting-edge technology.

An example of this is our investment of $10 million in the Hospital for Sick Children's KidsArm project, an image guided innovation and therapeutic robotic surgical system. The first paediatric technology of its kind in the world, the project will create over 80 'jobs of the future' in the southern Ontario heartland and has a promising future for international commercialization.

We are also investing $5.2 million in COM DEV International to help them develop and launch micro-satellites. This initiative will take the company into an exciting new market poised for major growth, and strengthen Ontario's position as a world leader in this growing market.

Just a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister also announced a $25 million contribution toward the creation of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies located at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. This Centre will provide an opportunity for Canada to become a world leader in the field of global security, and attract top researchers and world leading specialists to southern Ontario.

And finally, just last month, at Sheridan College, I launched FedDev Ontario's Applied Research and Commercialization initiative. This program will provide up to $15 million to create partnerships between smaller enterprises that would like to innovate, and post-secondary institutions that have the applied research and development capacity to further develop those ideas and help bring them to market.

I encourage post-secondary institutions of southern Ontario to consider this initiative and apply for up to $750,000 to fund projects they will undertake in partnership with businesses.

These projects will be market focused and driven by business needs. The research will be undertaken to solve a particular problem, develop a product, practice or process, or meet an organizational objective.

This pilot initiative will allow smaller businesses to work more closely with colleges and universities to meet their research and development goals, and companies to experiment with new products or production methods in a cost-effective way.

Ladies and gentleman, we are addressing the gap between research and commercialization and enabling the private sector to do what it does best—turn knowledge into innovation, and innovation into prosperity and an improved quality of life.

We need look no further than Research In Motion as an example of what is possible when the private sector works together with academic institutions to transform ideas into viable businesses, and innovation into reality.

I am sure that together we can lay the foundations for the next global leader. Because all great ideas start in forward-thinking, supportive environments like those fostered at Sheridan College, Conestoga College or George Brown.

I am confident that right now in a lab somewhere, at one of these, or another fine Canadian post-secondary institution, a student is working to develop an idea that will shape our future. We must do all we can to ensure these ideas are given every chance to succeed.

All of these initiatives I've outlined today are examples of our government's commitment to creating conditions in Canada where ideas can be nurtured and realized and high-quality jobs can be created.

Our government remains committed to investing in the goals and objectives shared by Polytechnics Canada and identifying and eliminating any barriers that stand in the way.

I would like to thank Polytechnics Canada and their members for all of your hard work and tireless participation as we push our country to the forefront in research and innovation.

The work that we are doing together is paving the way for a stronger, prosperous and smarter Canada.

Thank you.

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