Posted: January 28, 2008

The Government of Canada Unites Major R&D Players to Fuel Ottawa's Photonics Industry

(Nanowerk News) The Ottawa photonics industry received a $22.3-million boost from the Government of Canada today. The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism), on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for National Research Council Canada (NRC), reconfirmed the Government of Canada's support of the NRC's Ottawa-based photonics cluster initiative.
Launched in 2002, this NRC initiative was undertaken to advance the region's ability to perform collaborative R&D that results in high-value commercialized products.
"Canada's private sector is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises that are looking for partners to share risks and investment, allowing them to take full advantage of opportunities that could make them key international players," said Secretary of State Ablonczy at today's announcement. "Increasing the private sector's commitment to research and development is a cornerstone of our Science and Technology Strategy, released last May by Prime Minister Harper and reinforced in the Speech from the Throne.''
Ottawa is one of six technology clusters supported by the Government of Canada's recent investment of $118 million over three years. The other clusters are Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies in Vancouver, Nanotechnology in Edmonton, Plants for Health and Wellness in Saskatoon, Biomedical Technologies in Winnipeg, and Aluminum Transformation in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Technology clusters are broadly based community partnerships among industry, universities and colleges, and all levels of government, focused on building a competitive advantage for Canada through research and innovation. These S&T partnerships position communities to attract talent, investment and economic activity.
Funding for NRC's Ottawa-based photonics initiative was renewed in light of tangible results that include an increase in the number of start-up companies (three of which recently raised more than $10 million in risk capital); the relocation of a U.S.-based firm that moved part of its operations to Ontario to take advantage of R&D tax credits and Ottawa's vibrant photonics cluster; deeply engaged community partners who collectively launched the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre, resulting in reduced development costs and time to market for Canadian firms; and an increase in the number of formal research collaborations among industry, university-based researchers and NRC research teams on themes of national importance (energy, environment, health, etc.).
"The excellence of Ottawa's photonics cluster is rooted in a tradition of community cooperation, and our support will help maintain and build upon the cluster's reputation as one of the world's top five photonics clusters," said Dr. Pierre Coulombe, President of NRC. "Activities undertaken by NRC and its community partners have substantially reduced prototype development costs for Canadian firms, thereby reducing start-up costs for local firms while increasing investments from the risk capital community."
Since 2000, NRC has brought stakeholders together in regions across Canada via its cluster initiative program to turn ideas into innovations that can provide solutions to the country's environment, health, productivity and other related challenges.
In addition to NRC's six Western and Central Canada technology cluster initiatives, the organization also spearheads initiatives in Regina (sustainable infrastructure), Fredericton and Moncton (information technology and e-business), Halifax (life sciences), Charlottetown (nutri-sciences and health) and St. John's (ocean technologies).
About Ottawa's Photonics Cluster
Ottawa has the most vibrant photonics cluster in Canada and is among the top five in the world. The community comprises close to 100 pioneering companies and some of the best minds and research facilities at government labs and universities. The Ottawa photonics cluster has strived to create a dynamic environment that stimulates the emergence of new firms, the creation of jobs, and the growth of investment by providing networking venues to the region's seasoned business and technical people, angel investors, and new entrepreneurs.NRC has developed a bold strategic plan to build upon this existing expertise as it continues to support the growth of Ottawa's photonics cluster and the Canadian photonics industry.
Source: National Research Council Canada
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