We need to set an ambitious, quantifiable target that we will work together to achieve. For me, it is not important where we rank today; what is important is our velocity, the speed at which we improve. Let's accelerate the distribution of knowledge. This is what limits the speed of growth. If we can learn best practicesand disseminate knowledge faster than others, then we will succeed, we will have the leading edge

Charles Deguire, Co-Founder, Kinova Robotics

The Advanced manufacturing sector today

Advanced manufacturing is defined by the development and adoption of innovative technologies to create new products, enhance processes and establish more efficient and cost-effective ways of working. All parts of the value chain are connected—from R&D and design to production and distribution—enabling new value-added models such as manufacturing as a service, which optimizes production by forming networks of shared facilities and equipment.

At A Glance

Manufacturing is a significant contributor to Canada's economy

  • Accounts for 10% of Canada's GDPFootnote 1
  • Provides 1.7 million high-quality, well-paying jobsFootnote 2
  • Generates 70% of Canadian merchandise exportsFootnote 3

Manufacturing fuels Canadian communities

  • Involves 80,000 manufacturing establishments that serve as the economic engines of communities across the countryFootnote 4

The sector attracts investment to Canada

  • 29% of foreign direct investment in Canada in 2012 flowed into the manufacturing sectorFootnote 5

Canada has many strengths

  • Home to top companies including:
    • Five of the world's top 10 injection mold and toolmakersFootnote 6
    • Three of North America's top 30 parts manufacturersFootnote 7
    • One of the world's top three aerospace clustersFootnote 8
  • Leading capabilities in:
    • Additive manufacturing metal powders (two of the world's top five suppliers are Canadian)Footnote 9
    • Biomanufacturing, including for stem cells and biologics
  • Strong industry-academic research collaboration
  • Emerging research clusters including the Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology and the Pan-Canadian Additive Manufacturing Network

Canada faces some challenges

  • Increasing global competition, especially from emerging economies
  • Uneven technology adoption and lagging productivity
  • Fluctuating commodity prices and dollar create variable costs
  • Slow growth in the main export market of the U.S.
  • Shortages of skilled and digitally skilled labour

Canada could seize key opportunities

  • Manufacturing has shifted toward high-value (i.e., not commodity-based) activities
  • Canada is strong in knowledge-intensive segments and on the leading edge of technology domains like AI
  • Capital is becoming more mobile
  • Automation and robotics that support on-shoring for global mandates allow smaller industrialized economies to compete
  • Canada is an open and diverse economy

Priority themes

Technology and global competition continue to disrupt the manufacturing sector and open up new arenas of opportunity. Canadian manufacturers need to make innovation a competitive strategy and invest in leading-edge technology solutions to seize those opportunities. With that in mind, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table has identified the following priority themes:

  1. Attracting Global Mandates
    Investments by multinational enterprises bring capital for R&D, machinery and equipment, provide well-paying jobs for Canadians, and create clusters to support new smaller companies and value chain players. Canada needs to attract and retain these investments for a sustainable manufacturing ecosystem. As a first step, the Table is exploring measures that build a Canadian value proposition including a supply of targeted and skilled workers, cost-competitiveness, regulatory alignment and an agility of response to opportunities.
  2. Growing firms to scale
    Growing to scale means being able to compete internationally, expand into new markets and meet new demand. Table members are working to identify where Canadian companies are challenged in growing to scale—with a focus on access to talent, capital and export markets. The Table is looking at opportunities for Canadian firms to “leap frog” by sharing best practices across a strong ecosystem, and significantly accelerating our number of high growth firms.
  3. Speeding up technology adoption
    Advanced technologies, including those of digitization and automation, help manufacturers reduce production costs and improve their productivity and international competitiveness. Canada needs to position itself as a global leader in new technologies that improve productivity, output and competitiveness by accelerating innovation adoption and providing a more receptive domestic market for Canadian innovation. This could involve “doubling down” on machinery and equipment investments, getting technology developers and adopters to co-create relevant solutions, and preparing Canadian firms to participate in digitized supply chains.
  4. Equipping workers for the jobs of tomorrow
    New technologies create new opportunities but also demand new skills. Apprenticeships and experiential learning will be important to preparing IT-literate, next-generation workers for advanced manufacturing. For the sector to succeed, we also need to include skilled workers from traditionally under-used talent pools, such as Indigenous Peoples, Canadians with disabilities and women. To highlight the career opportunities available in advanced manufacturing, the sector needs to brand “the factory of the future” as the workplace of tomorrow—a maker-space, technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable.

Members of the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table