We were honoured to be among the set of stakeholders engaged in the Industry Strategy Council’s (ISC) assessment of Canada’s economic landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were pleased to see the direct alignment in the ISC’s recommendations with our core mission at the Digital Technology Supercluster.
Entitled “Restart, Recover, and Reimagine Prosperity for all Canadians,” the report details the need for an industrial strategy with four key pillars for a digital, sustainable, and innovative economy. As an organization working to accelerate Canada’s digital transformation, we were pleased to see how the report highlighted digital innovation is at the heart of Canada’s ability to recover and rebuild all parts of our economy – from healthcare to mining to forestry to manufacturing.
Pillar 1: Become a digital and data-driven economy
As the report points out, the COVID-19 crisis has dramatically accelerated the global shift to digital. “The pandemic showed the extent to which operational resiliency depends on the ability of firms to adopt and deploy modern digital technologies and to leverage the data that come with it. Globally, digital and data-transformed companies are projected to increase from approximately $12 trillion in GDP production to $50 trillion over the next four years.”
One of the ways that our supercluster projects drive growth is by improving the productivity of supply chains within and across industries. We’re seeing this first-hand in projects like Scaling Safe Food Delivery for Canadians, Beacon – Realtime Global Sharing Network, and Augmented Reality for Inspection. Digital innovation also leads to the creation of new industries which become a significant driver in long-term economic growth.
Pillar 2: Be a world leader in resources, clean energy, and clean technology
With the third-largest endowment of natural resources in the world, behind only China and Saudi Arabia, the Industry Strategy Council is right to focus on the largest democratic resource base in the world.
Canada’s natural resource sector accounts for about one-fifth of Canada’s GDP, has an outsized influence on our exports and is a source of significant investment in capital projects. Much of this economic activity is critical to small communities across the country. As such, the continued health of Canada’s traditional resource sectors is a fundamental building block in the new economy.
We see the long-term potential of our projects such as Forest Machine Connectivity, Protecting Our Oceans, and Fresh Water Data Commons which are focused on innovation and sustainability of our natural resources sector.
Pillar 3: Build innovative and high-value manufacturing where we can lead globally
While manufacturing has always been an economic driver and enabler in Canada, production has been falling. Due to COVID-19, the report found, manufacturing saw a 30% decline in GDP, with automotive, aerospace, and machinery experiencing especially negative shocks.
The ISC’s consultations revealed a consensus that now is the time for Canada to review its place in global supply chains. And the Supercluster is providing ways for the country to enhance its position with projects such as Learning Factory Digital Twin and Predictive Analytics for Manufacturing Processes.
Pillar 4: Leverage our agri-food advantage to feed the planet
Many countries remain reliant on imports for trusted, reliable and safe products, positioning Canada’s agri-food sector as a strong engine of growth through recovery. As the report points out, Canada is the world’s 2nd largest agricultural trader per capita and one of the top exporters of key commodities including wheat, oats, lentils, and live beef.
Big data can revolutionize the agricultural sector by harnessing an interconnected data ecosystem with the right tools and software to provide unparalleled data analytics and insights that can better predict yields while providing for a more sustainable approach to agriculture. We’ve seen this exemplified in projects such as Earth Data Store and Precision Agriculture to Improve Crop Health.
By embracing the Industry Strategy Council’s recommendations and continuing to advance our innovative projects, Canadian policy-makers can support the development of myriad new products, boost export-led revenue growth, and showcase Canada’s global digital leadership.
This will accelerate Canada’s economic growth, create more opportunities to develop a confident digital workforce, and pave the digital highways that will support a clean, innovative, digital economy that works for all Canadians.