The announcement marks the largest wave of automotive industry investments to date under Canada’s Innovation Supercluster Initiative, and features projects in critical minerals, batteries, power electronics, fuel cells and lightweight materials
Fifteen new industry-led consortia — a total of 33 Canadian companies — have been selected to receive $76 million in new funding to help Canada’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) supply chain scale to meet industry demand and develop advanced automotive manufacturing processes and technologies.
Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) is the industry-led non-profit that leads the Canadian innovation hub, the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster. Based at McMaster University Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ont., with over 4,500 members, it is funding these projects to solidify and grow the country’s zero-emission vehicle manufacturing ecosystem for the long term.
“In Canada, there are robust supports for both foundational early-stage investments and major late-stage investments, but it is critical that we do not overlook the space in between,” says John Laughlin, CTO of NGen in a emailed response to questions from Electric Autonomy Canada.
“Unlocking advanced capability requires supporting industry-led, collaborative initiatives that combine Canada’s research, technology, and manufacturing strengths to connect innovation ecosystems, strengthen workforce capabilities, develop unique manufacturing solutions, and help commercialize them in Canada for global markets.”
This latest round of investments stemmed from a call for proposals issued last summer. The total funding provided exceeds the original target and brings NGen’s total automotive project portfolio to $140 million.
Overall, to date, NGen says it has approved 166 Canadian projects with 374 industry partners, investing $236 million of Supercluster funds and leveraging $371 million in new R&D investments by industry. Through the Supercluster, 18 new companies have been created that have generated over $1.92 billion in revenue. The impacts of these companies, NGen hopes, will be felt for generations.
“[A]ll NGen project consortia must demonstrate that they will leave a legacy in skills development, tools, testbeds, intellectual property, and/or business knowledge for Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem,” says Laughlin.
“Developing domestic advanced manufacturing capabilities is the key to unlocking significant opportunities in Canada.”
Investment based on strategy
In order to help identify areas of potential and help to inform where funding should be directed, NGen, along with Porsche Consulting, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), and the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, produced a “Canadian Automotive Supplier Capability and EV Value Chain Analysis” report in March of this year.
The report identified supplier capabilities as well as potential areas for investment and growth along the EV value chain in Canada. NGen conducted industry consultations in harmony with the report to identify an eight-point goal strategy. Around this strategy, NGen created a “funding challenge” for the $76 million as a way to evaluate applicant suitability for investment.
The findings from the strategy report helped to inform a criteria list on which NGen can help rely for how to apply their funding. To be eligible for funding, projects must demonstrate that they will:
- Create jobs
- Create value for the Canadian economy
- Develop new processes throughout zero-emission vehicle value chains
- Develop products to enter new supply chains and scale manufacturing
- Reduce the overall cost of manufacturing EV products in Canada
- Increase the quality of the products being manufactured
- Reduce overall operational emissions
- Build flexibility into production processes
Laughlin says NGen’s funding is administered through a competitive, fair and transparent process. Companies are asked to confidentially submit their proposals, which are then assessed by independent industry experts against the funding challenge goals.
“NGen plays a critical role in the industrial R&D space as a funder that can help companies develop and scale their processes and capabilities, which strengthens the value chain and anchors knowledge in Canada and grows the advanced manufacturing ecosystem,” explains Laughlin.
“Our funding helps companies de-risk their R&D investments allowing them to push the boundaries of innovation, in turn upskilling staff as they learn and develop these new capabilities.”
Supercluster’s new projects
The 15 new supercluster projects NGen is funding are collaborations between Canadian companies, with the majority headquartered in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.
There is a mix of small, start-up players and legacy industry names and a range of functions that, among others, include auto parts manufacturing, EV battery recycling and hydrogen technology.
“As the global transition to zero-emission vehicles accelerates, NGen has taken a leadership role in fostering game-changing collaborations with industry and academic partners across the country to reinforce Canada’s position as a global leader,” said François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry in a press release announcing the recipients.
“These projects demonstrate the exceptional capabilities and talent that we can deploy to create more business and build the vehicles of the future here in Canada.”
The full Canadian NGen supercluster project list is:
- Advanced Manufacturing Process Innovations – Flex-Ion Battery Innovation Center – Ventra Group Co. (Ont.), eCAMION Inc. (Ont.)
- Next Generation Grafoil Plate Forming Pilot Line – Ballard Power Systems Inc. (B.C.), Macrodyne Technologies Inc. (Ont.), and Eclipse Automation Inc. (Ont.)
- Green Recycling of EV Battery Black Mass – Cnem Corp. (Ont.), Talon Metals Services Inc. (Ont.), Palcan Power Systems Inc. (B.C.)
- AI-Assisted Smart-Optic Manufacturing of Modular EV Systems – Damon Motors Inc. (B.C.), Darwin AI (Ont.), Moment Energy Inc. (B.C.)
- Center of Excellence for High Volume Manufacturing of Hydrogen Fuel Cells – Cummins Inc. (Ont.), AIS Technologies Group (Ont.), Shelley Industrial Automation (Ont.), Konnexio Inc. (Ont.)
- Next Generation Membrane Electrode Assembly – Momentum Materials Solutions Corp. (Alta.), BlissEarth Energy Research Inc. (Alta.)
- Advanced Manufacturing Scale-up of Critical Zero Emission Vehicle Components – Precision Resource Canada Ltd. (Ont.), Miltera Machining Research Corp. (Ont.)
- Scalable Manufacturing Process for Solar Film Integrated Body Panels – Rayleigh Solar Tech Inc. (N.S.), Magna International (Ont.)
- Pilot line for novel Li-ion thermal management solution – Calogy Solutions (Que.), Linear Automation (Ont.)
- Scale Up of Next Generation Li-ion battery electrode processing technology – Electrovaya Inc. (Ont.), Lantern Machinery Analytics Inc (B.C.), Eecomobility Inc. (Ont.)
- Automated Module Assembly with Advanced Laser Welding and In-Line QC – Electrovaya Inc. (Ont.), Eecomobility Inc. (Ont.)
- Recycling of Solid State Lithium Batteries for EV Powertrains – Li-Metal Corp. (Ont.), Blue Solutions Canada Inc. (Que.)
- Manufacturing Process for Compact ZEV Inverters – Linamar (Ont.), Westhill Innovation (Ont.)
- Manufacturing Green Lithium Extraction Modules – Summit Nanotech Corp. (Alta.), Ionic Solutions (Alta.)
- Advanced Manufacturing Methods and Equipment for ZEV Propulsion Batteries – Flex-Ion Battery Innovation Center – Ventra Group Co. (Ont.), Inspectech Analygas Group Inc. (Ont.)