No Manitoba projects on federal shortlist for $950M 'supercluster' funding

Manitoba won't get a piece of nearly $1 billion in federal funding promised to five to-be-determined "superclusters" across the country.

Left off federal shortlist for funding for collaborations between companies, post-secondary, not-for-profits

Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains says the $950 million behind the 'Innovation Superclusters Initiative' will 'create more middle-class jobs and more opportunities for Canadian businesses to grow into globally successful brands.' (The Canadian Press)

Manitoba won't get a piece of nearly $1 billion in federal funding promised to five to-be-determined "superclusters" across the country.

In May, the Liberal government announced its plan to give $950 million over five years to five regional hubs, or "superclusters," defined as collaborations between companies, post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations partnering "to turn ideas into solutions that can be brought to market."

Radio-Canada obtained a shortlist of the nine final contenders for the program on Tuesday, and no Manitoba projects made the cut.

Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard said there were four Manitoba candidates, including EMILI — the Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative. Formed two years ago, the project focuses on technological innovation in agriculture.

In question period on Wednesday, Gerrard said the province didn't do enough to support its candidates.

"Companies like Sightline and the made-in-Manitoba consortium EMILI … worked hard, but there was not enough support from the Manitoba government and Manitoba's effort fell short," Gerrard said.

Premier Brian Pallister said the province has asked Ottawa about its decision-making criteria for the awards.

"The fact of the matter is we're not going to win 'em all, but we're going to try, Madame Speaker, and we tried hard on this and we'll keep trying," he said.

Pallister included a specific direction to champion EMILI in his 2016 mandate letter to Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Cliff Cullen.

In the letter, Pallister called the project a "prime example of what can be accomplished when Manitoba's business community bands together."