Building World-Class Advanced Manufacturing Capabilities in the Prairies

Prairie companies are building world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities to help Canadians battle the COVID-19 pandemic, improve environmental sustainability, and develop new digital and high-performance technology applications that promise to boost the competitiveness and growth potential of Canadian manufacturers from coast to coast to coast.

NGen is the industry-led network committed to enhancing Canada’s advanced manufacturing capabilities for the benefit of Canadians. Built on the principle that the digital transition in advanced manufacturing will enrich the lives of Canadians, NGen supports the companies that will deliver better products and good jobs while generating the economic growth essential to a better future. 

With a mandate to connect research, technology, manufacturing, and workforce strengths across the country, NGen strives to accelerate the development, adoption, scale-up, and commercialization of innovative solutions that enhance the competitiveness and growth of Canada’s manufacturing sector, add value and new jobs to the Canadian economy, and tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges like health care, food and supply chain security, and environmental sustainability.

NGen works to identify, promote, connect, and strengthen collaboration among experts, companies, and organizations that contribute to advanced manufacturing in Canada. It funds and supports transformative, industry-led, collaborative innovation projects with the potential to deliver significant economic and social benefits for Canadians. NGen also leads initiatives that improve access for smaller companies to education, training, and testing facilities across Canada and that enhance the skills and management capabilities of Canada’s advanced manufacturing workforce.

Prairie Highlights 

Since NGen’s inception, Prairie companies have engaged with us to support their advanced manufacturing journey. 

Membership: Since inception, 381 Prairies-based companies, experts, and organizations have joined NGen’s advanced manufacturing membership network

Projects: 35 Prairie companies and research centres are partnering in 22 world-leading advanced manufacturing projects funded
by NGen

Investment: NGen has approved investments of $29.5 million in projects involving Prairie partners, with total innovation spending estimated at $62.7 million

Jobs: NGen Projects involving Prairie partners will create more than 5,000 jobs over the next five years.

Advanced Manufacturing Projects

Through co-investments with industry in collaborative projects, NGen supports companies that have the potential to transform manufacturing processes, generate significant commercial opportunities, and contribute to Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem through the transfer of knowledge and intellectual property (IP).

NGen-funded projects combine research, technology, and manufacturing capabilities in the development and scale-up of novel manufacturing processes. Collaboration provides project partners with innovation, scale-up, and commercial opportunities they would not be able to achieve on their own. Licensing agreements allow IP arising in projects to be shared with NGen members and applied across manufacturing sectors. 

To date, NGen has approved investments of $209 million in 135 projects across Canada, leveraging an estimated $515 million in total innovation spending. NGen’s project portfolio involves 306 industry and 119 academic and research partners from across the country – 275 (90 per cent) of the industry partners participating in NGen-funded projects are SMEs. One quarter of NGen-funded projects involve interprovincial collaboration among project partners.

NGen has approved investments of
$29.5 million in 22 projects involving 35 industry and research partners based in the Prairie provinces, which will lead to an estimated $62.7 million in total innovation spending. Fourteen of those projects involve collaboration with partners in other provinces across Canada. All but three prairie project partners are SMEs.

To date, projects involving Prairie partners have generated around $100 million in sales. As they progress and the results are commercialized, they are expected to create more than 5,000 jobs over the next five years.

Prairie companies and researchers have led in the fight against COVID-19:

• Among a number of important contributions to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), Precision ADM partnered with BOMImed, also in Winnipeg, and Synergy Moldworks in Brantford, Ontario to manufacture new filter material for respirators

• Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan helped Sona Nanotech test a new quick-response nano-based test kit for COVID-19

• Fidelity Machine and Mould Solutions, Sentinent Tools Engineering, and Fidelity Medical Manufacturing, all based in Calgary, developed an automated system to manufacture procedure masks

• Titan Clean Energy Products in Craik, Saskatchewan are working with BIG-Nano and Swenco in Waterloo, Ontario, IPC Technologies in Cambridge, and APC Filtration in Brantford, Ontario to develop a nano-fibre melt-blown production method for PPE and air purification filters

• Titan is also partnering with Panther Industries in Davidson, Saskatchewan, K&S Potash based in Saskatoon, BIG-Nano in Waterloo, and Canada Masq in Markham, Ontario to develop a new process for biodegradable melt-blown resin and fabric production for PPE

• Suncor Energy is partnering with International Point of Care and Immune Diagnostics in Toronto and Precision Biomonitoring in Guelph, Ontario to scale up production of COVID-19 reagents and test kits

• Roswell DHT in Calgary is partnering with Armfoam from Longueuil, Quebec to automate the production of
N95 respirators

• Northern RNA in Calgary is partnering with Providence Therapeutics from Toronto to develop and manufacture a made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine

Prairie companies are also developing unique solutions for additive manufacturing and resource processing:

• OIC and Prescision ADM in Winnipeg are partnering with Spinologics from Montreal and Pega Medical from Laval, Quebec as well as Halifax-based Conceptualiz to develop and validate an automated software system for improving the additive manufacturability of patient-specific medical devices

• Exergy Solutions in Calgary is working with Precision ADM and Suncor Energy to develop and apply advanced manufacturing processes for mining and mineral processing

In addition to advanced manufacturing projects, NGen has supported the development and growth of four Prairie-based advanced manufacturing clusters – the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association (SIMSA), NanoCanada (Canada’s Nanomedicine Cluster), a new Manufacturing and Export Enhancement Cluster in central Alberta, as well as InnoTech Alberta’s Sustainable Manufacturing Cluster. NGen funding has enabled these clusters to connect with other advanced manufacturing clusters across Canada and to develop new performance enhancement and business opportunities for their 600-plus members.

NGen has partnered with two Prairie-based education and training partners in its workforce development initiatives: Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business both contribute courses to NGen’s Advanced Manufacturing Productivity Upskilling Program (AMPUP).

NGen also partners with other industry and innovation networks based in the Prairie provinces, including Protein Industries Canada, Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, the CME’s Manitoba Division, and Manitoba’s Vehicle Technology Cluster.

Looking Ahead

At NGen, we’re thrilled to close another successful year of operations and kick off the new year with some exciting initiatives that will set our sights on supporting the development of an electric vehicle supply chain here in Canada. With our Zero Emissions Automotive Manufacturing Challenge now closed, we look forward to announcing the successful project recipients early in the new year. 

Canada has many of the assets we need to excel as a zero-emission automotive manufacturing nation. We are home to world-leading research and a robust technology sector that are already driving advances in battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Our ready supply of low-carbon electricity should be a magnet for investment on the part of industry looking to reduce its overall carbon footprint. Many of the minerals that go into battery production like cobalt, nickel, and manganese can be sourced from northern Canada. Some of the most innovative auto parts manufacturers – world leaders with their own global production footprints – are headquartered here.

Southern Ontario is also home to some of the most productive automotive assembly operations in the world, all of which currently have mandates to manufacture electric vehicles. We are integrated in North American automotive supply chains that have been strengthened by the CUSMA.

Time and again, our high-quality workforce has proven itself to be the best in the world when it comes to manufacturing innovation and productivity improvement.

Industry needs to work together on this. While amazing research, technology, and manufacturing capabilities can be found across Canada, a far greater degree of collaboration will be necessary to build the vibrant advanced manufacturing ecosystem that will be necessary to develop truly world-leading innovations in the EV sector, attract investment into Canada, and enable Canadian companies to commercialize their solutions around the world. NGen has a critical role to play in this regard.