TORONTO—The federal government and Celestica Inc. this week launched a $19-million industry-led incubator aimed at commercializing made-in-Canada products and technologies.
Backed by a $7.7-million contribution over five years from Ottawa and some big-name firms operating in Canada, including Cisco Systems Inc., Honeywell International, Inc. and DuPont, the Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (ReMAP) network officially kicked off with a goal of creating an electronics manufacturing ecosystem here that carries new products through all stages of development before hitting the marketplace—all while staying in Canada.
According to Mike Andrade, executive vice-president of diversified markets with Celestica, that ground-up, made-in-Canada approach has long been missing, and it’s something his firm hopes to address by taking the lead on ReMAP.
“I just think there’s a gap, and if we didn’t fill it there’s no one else to fill it,” he said. “Many of the people who could’ve filled (that role) in the past don’t exist or aren’t in the position to do it, so I think that’s where it started—if not us who?”
Andrade was joined by local MP John Carmichael and Minister of State for Science and Technology Ed Holder at Celestica’s Toronto headquarters for the announcement, where both politicians heaped praise on the work being done by the more than 25 ReMAP network partners but called on all to do more.
“You all have a responsibility and an opportunity,” Holder said to network representatives from post-secondary institutions, businesses and industry associations.
“We stand at a moment of huge opportunity in this country, and I think ReMAP will help Canada seize that moment.”
Andrade echoed those sentiments, but added that the global technology landscape has morphed into one that relies on collaboration to get products off the ground.
Gone are the days when one firm could do it all by themselves, he continued; product development and commercialization instead relies on a network to ensure success.
“It really takes a village,” Andrade said. “When you’re talking about really complex technological products (they) cannot be developed by any one company … We have found that working with partners to take those ideas, find suppliers who bring solutions to the problems, working with a variety of companies big and small, is the only way to effectively launch complex electronics and technological products.”
Through its network of more than 25 partners, ReMAP will give participating companies—including startups and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as large businesses—access to research and development expertise to accelerate time to market.
But perhaps what’s most significant about the network, one observer who did not wish to be identified opined, is Ottawa’s willingness to take a back seat to industry, letting the experts at Celestica and other firms do what they do best.
When asked about the government’s supporting role in ReMAP, Holder said the federal Conservatives are committed to supporting innovation across the country, pointing to Canada’s position as leader among G7 nations for investing in research and development.
According to Andrade, Celestica has been in talks with the government for years about the need for a project like ReMAP, and it was important for Ottawa to recognize that there was a place for industry-led support in order to get Canadian products to market.
“We felt that the government was spending a lot in Canada … on basic research support, but we don’t come up with a lot of products (in Canada),” he said. “It seems like we have the right people, institutions (and) tax regime to create intellectual property, but then it goes through this (vacuum) where you don’t come out the other side with many global products.”
And that, he said, is what industry-led projects like ReMAP are all about.
To find out more about the network, log on to the ReMAP website.