Minister of Industry Invests in Innovative Research and Development Projects for Emergency Services

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Minister of Industry Tony Clement at Norsat Plant

Richmond, British Columbia, January 15, 2009—The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, has demonstrated the Canadian government's commitment to stimulating the Canadian economy through investments in innovation. Today, he announced a repayable investment in Norsat International Inc. (Norsat) to research and develop the next generation of portable ground satellite telecommunications technologies.

"These technologies are going to help military personnel, emergency response teams and disaster recovery missions communicate better during a crisis," said Minister Clement. "They are also going to help Norsat develop a better project. This investment demonstrates the government's commitment to promoting excellence and accelerating innovation in Canada's aerospace and defence industries."

"In the recent Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada recognized the strategic importance of the Canadian manufacturing sector and the challenging financial conditions and global competitiveness it faces," Minister Clement added. "That is why we are implementing specific measures to strengthen these industries."

Based in Richmond, British Columbia, this $17-million-eligible R&D project will expand Norsat's technical capabilities in several ways, improving the effectiveness of satellite communications used in the field. Norsat's R&D activities include developing components that allow ground satellite systems to operate reliably over significant temperature ranges and in extreme environmental conditions, examining flat antenna technologies to increase satellite system portability, and integrating automatic control consoles that make it possible for non-technical users to operate ground-based satellite equipment. Under this project funding, Norsat will also design products that operate over wireless communications networks.

"This partnership with the federal government is key for Norsat because it enables us to pursue the R&D necessary to enhance and expand our product portfolio, furthering the technology leadership of our portable satellite terminals," said Dr. Amiee Chan, President and CEO of Norsat.

Norsat will also collaborate with Simon Fraser University graduate students on this project for the research and design of certain components, promoting knowledge and technology transfer in the region.

"Having involvement in this project presents a valuable opportunity for Simon Fraser University," said Dr. Rodney Vaughan, Professor of the School of Engineering Science. "It creates opportunities for our engineering students to gain practical experience, which is indispensable as they look toward entering Canada's workforce."

Today's repayable investment totalled $5.97 million. This investment is being made through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI), which supports strategic industrial research and pre-competitive development projects in the aerospace, defence, space and security industries. SADI is managed by the Industrial Technologies Office, a special operating agency of Industry Canada with a mandate to advance leading-edge R&D by Canadian industries.

For further information (media only), please contact:

Pema Lhalungpa
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Industry

Media Relations
Industry Canada


Minister of Industry Invests in Innovative Research and Development Projects for Emergency Services

The Government of Canada has made a repayable investment of $5.97 million in an industrial research and pre-competitive development (R&D) project being undertaken by Norsat International Inc. (Norsat) of Richmond, British Columbia, to develop next-generation technologies for portable ground-based satellite systems.

The $17-million eligible R&D project focuses on several areas of ground-based satellite technology. These include designing products that operate over a larger range of frequency bands and over wireless communications networks, and improving upon current antenna technologies to aid in the portability of ground satellite systems. Norsat will develop satellite capabilities that allow non technical users to set up and operate ground-based satellite systems, eliminating the need for communications technicians or engineers to be on site. This is especially useful if a portable ground satellite system must be deployed quickly without notice, as in an emergency or defence situation. This project also seeks to improve the quality of telecommunications over portable ground-based satellite systems and increase the reliability of these systems for operation over large temperature ranges and in extreme environmental conditions.

The main benefit of the government's investment is that it will help the company continue to expand its portfolio of portable satellite systems for use in the field by military personnel, emergency response teams and disaster recovery missions.

Throughout the project, Norsat will work with other small and medium-sized companies in British Columbia, fostering knowledge and technology transfer in the region. In addition, collaboration with Simon Fraser University will contribute to the professional development of engineering students, helping to strengthen Canada's knowledge-based workforce.

Advances in science and technology are essential to strengthening the competitiveness of Canada's economy. This investment in R&D undertaken by Norsat demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to set the right conditions for business innovation, promoting prosperity for all Canadians.

Norsat designs and develops ground-based satellite equipment for high-speed transmission of data, audio and video information. With 40 employees at its head office in Richmond, Norsat has additional offices in Seoul, South Korea and Rome, Italy. The company also has two wholly owned subsidiaries in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI), launched in April 2007, supports private sector industrial research and pre-competitive development in Canada's aerospace, defence, security and space industries through repayable investments. For more information about SADI, please visit the Industrial Technologies Office's website.

The Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative (SADI)

The Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative supports strategic industrial research and pre-competitive development (R&D) projects in the aerospace, defence, space and security (A&D) industries.

Launched on April 2, 2007, this new initiative was developed with three key objectives in mind:

  1. to encourage strategic R&D that will result in innovation and excellence in new products and services;
  2. to enhance the competitiveness of Canadian A&D companies; and
  3. to foster collaboration among research institutes, universities, colleges and the private sector.

By investing in strategic R&D projects, SADI contributes to the development of technologies that focus on next-generation products or services, build on Canadian strengths, and enable Canadian companies to participate in major platforms.

SADI is administered with high standards of transparency and accountability by the Industrial Technologies Office. All project applications undergo extensive evaluation using a clear and rigorous process with published assessment criteria. These criteria include the company's ability to achieve the stated objectives, the project's technology benefits, and the expected social and economic benefits.

All Canadians receive value from SADI's contributions through the technological and economic benefits that result from supported R&D projects. These benefits include spinoffs in diverse sectors of the economy, such as nanotechnology and information technology, as well as the development of collaborative partnerships with universities, colleges and research institutions. Contributions to R&D made through SADI will also contribute to high-quality employment opportunities, strengthen Canada's workforce with talented scientists, engineers and researchers, and leverage private sector investments in R&D.

Canada's A&D industries are recognized around the world for producing leading-edge products and services. Domestically, these industries are important economic drivers in all regions of the country and are collectively significant players in the development of Canada's knowledge-based economy. Among the world leaders, Canada's A&D industries offer competitive and innovative solutions and are backed by a highly skilled workforce.

The Industrial Technologies Office is a Special Operating Agency of Industry Canada, with a mandate to advance leading-edge R&D by Canadian industries.