Earlier today, the federal government unveiled its second Budget under Prime Minister Trudeau. With a specific focus on supporting skills development and bolstering Canada’s innovation strengths, there was much inside for Canada’s innovation and entrepreneurship communities.
Here are the top 10 highlights from #Budget2017
- Creation of “Innovation Canada”: A new organization will be established to better coordinate the support available to Canada’s innovative companies. In addition, the government is committing $1.26 billion over five years to a Strategic Innovation Fund that will consolidate and simplify existing business innovation programming.
- Funding for Skills Development: Likely inspired by the “FutureSkills” paper from the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, the government is creating a new agency to identify skills shortages, improve skill development, and advise on future skills investments and programming. The government has committed $225 million in funding to the agency over four years, and $75 million per year subsequently.
- Coding + Digital Literacy: $50 million dollars over two years will be made available to digital skills training organizations, on a competitive basis, to provide coding and digital skills education to young Canadians. An additional five-year, $29.5-million Digital Literacy Exchange program will be established to support non-profit organizations in implementing initiatives that teach basic digital skills to vulnerable groups.
- Superclusters: The government will make big bets on a few innovative industries by inviting businesses-led consortia to compete for $950 million in funding. Consortia will have a high potential to boost Canada’s growth and global competitiveness, and could come from advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health/biosciences, clean resources, infrastructure, and transportation.
- Artificial Intelligence: A $125-million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy will be launched to promote national collaboration, develop a robust AI talent pipeline, attract companies seeking to invest in AI, and build a Canadian AI brand. (Funding will be administered by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.)
- Support for Venture Capital: In the wake of the expiring Venture Capital Action Plan, the government is investing in a new support program: the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, which will provide $400 million over three years to increase late-stage venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs. (Funding will be administered by the Business Development Bank of Canada).
- Cleantech Funding: The government announced a large increase in funding for cleantech, with close to $1.4 billion in financing support for cleantech firms and an additional $400 million over five years for the SD Tech Fund.
- The Impact Canada Fund: The government is launching a new challenge fund dedicated to cracking some of the country’s big challenges, focused initially on clean technology ($75 million over two years) and smart cities ($300 million over 11 years). The fund, with an operating budget of $8.1 million over five years, will encourage collaborative problem solving and experimentation.
- Innovating Procurement: Inspired by the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research program, $50 million has been committed to launch a new procurement program. This program will direct a portion of federal department and agency funding to purchase goods and services from Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs, supporting early-stage research and development, and helping innovative ventures scale.
- Support for Women Entrepreneurs: Building on a $50-million fund announced last November, the government has signaled that it will advance efforts to take down barriers affecting women in entrepreneurship, with a commitment to helping women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and boost exports from women-led companies. We’re cheating a little…
- Intellectual Property Strategy: While details are pending, the government announced a commitment to develop a new intellectual property strategy for Canada in 2017.