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New generation of manufacturers must embrace disruptive tech: report

October 13, 2016  By The Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The future of Canada’s manufacturing sector will be shaped by our capacity to move away from the traditional manufacturing model, and instead leverage creativity, technology and innovation, reveals a new report released by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce during the Guelph Economic Leadership Forum. In Only the Smart Survive: How Canada Can Remain Competitive in Manufacturing, the Canadian Chamber examines how to reverse the decline in Canadian manufacturing through modern policies and incentives, particularly in sectors such as automotive, aerospace, clean-tech and biotech.

“With a strong and educated workforce, access to key export markets and a stable financing regime, Canada is a good place for manufacturers to do business. Yet, we’re losing ground because on balance, we’re not quick enough to embrace new technology and because we measure manufacturing success exclusively by outputs, rather than by what can be gained in the process. By trying to play it safe, we’re falling behind more nimble markets,” explained the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “To turn this trend around, we have to recognize that new technology is reshaping the global manufacturing landscape and changing where companies choose to invest. Canada can position itself as a manufacturing powerhouse by investing in research and development and adopting new and innovative technology,” he continued.

The new report lays out the conditions the Canadian government should assemble to ensure the competitiveness of our manufacturing sector, starting with harnessing transformative technology, investing more heavily in digital infrastructure, improving market access and ensuring we invest in providing workers with the strategic skills they need.


“Putting in place small, incremental shifts in manufacturing has failed. It’s time for Canada to make bold choices in order to regain our global competitiveness. We need to have the discussion on the role we want for research and development, how to capitalize on innovation and what new policies and incentives to implement. That’s why events like this forum on manufacturing are so important – they allow us to open that dialogue amongst business and with government,” said Mr. Kithio Mwanzia, President and CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and convenor of the Guelph Economic Leadership Forum on Innovation in Manufacturing.

The report also contains seven recommendations for government to consider, ranging from regulatory harmonization to foreign direct investment and alignment of public R&D spending. 

“In today’s world of disruptive technologies, there are significant new opportunities for Canada to drive sustained economic growth through innovation, and nowhere more than in our manufacturing sectors,” said Mr. David Paterson, Vice President, Corporate and Environmental Affairs at General Motors of Canada and immediate past Chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Success will require us to invent products others will manufacture – not just to be excellent at manufacturing products that others have invented. Governments, industry and academia need to ensure our future Canadian champion companies have access to the talent, customers and capital they will require to lead the world.”

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