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Short list for SAIT

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, was on campus for "supercluster" announcement.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, was on campus Oct. 12 for "supercluster" announcement.

SAIT, along with various Alberta companies and institutions, is one step closer to accessing federal funding earmarked to help Canada build a skilled workforce and compete globally through newly formed "superclusters" of technical innovation.

Two Alberta proposals for agri-food and sustainable buildings were among nine across the country that were shortlisted Thursday morning as part of the recently announced $950-million Innovation Superclusters Initiative.

The initiative, unveiled this past spring, aims at creating jobs and advance innovation in areas such as manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure and agri-food through private-public partnerships.

It will also bring together the private sector, academic institutions, communities and the government, says Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, who was on hand during Thursday's announcement at SAIT's Enerplus Centre for Innovation.

"In today's knowledge-based economy, this collaboration is essential," he says. "Together, we are building the economy of the future, creating the jobs of today and tomorrow and gearing up for global success that will benefit all Canadians."

More about superclusters

Superclusters are condensed areas of business activity, such as Silicon Valley, which attract companies to work with post-secondary institutions to create jobs.

The agri-food supercluster aims at improving food quality, sustainability and security through information engineering, connectivity and tracking within crop and livestock food chains.

The second shortlisted application focuses on resilient, sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure.

"The federal government is supporting two strong applications in sustainable building design and food quality and safety. We can play a role in both of those at SAIT," says Rick Tofani, Director of Applied Research and Innovation Services.

Green Building Technologies research associate David Silburn, SAIT's representative on the proposal team, adds the infrastructure proposal, if successful, will lead to new knowledge and the application of new technologies.

"It's an exciting opportunity to collaborate in the construction sector with Alberta businesses and other universities," he says.

The federal government received 50 proposals in total, bringing together some 1,000 businesses and 350 other partners, including 100 academic institutions.

What's next

Shortlisted applicants will now be allowed to submit more detailed applications for consideration by the end of November. The winners will be announced in March 2018.

Bains says they will ultimately approve anywhere between three and five proposals, each of which will receive matching government funds.

The final number will depend on the proposals, their level of ambition and collaboration and their focus on creating jobs, Bains says.

"We want to create Canadian companies that succeed not only in Canada but globally," he says.