Ever wonder if you can join a Global Innovation Cluster?

3 min read

Two professionals at a desk and doing research on a computer.

A Global Innovation Cluster is a dynamic, supercharged ecosystem where large and small companies collaborate with researchers and academics and are supported by venture capitalists and government funding.

And with all that collaboration, ideas and projects move fast.

You can find global innovation clusters all over the world, including California, Shanghai, Beijing, London and now … Canada. In fact, we have 5 of them, all backed by the Government of Canada, all covering very different types of industries. Which might have you wondering:

how can I get in on this?

Here’s the bottom line: anyone can apply to a Global Innovation Cluster

You don’t need to be a fortune 500 company to join a Global Innovation Cluster. Whether you’re a large firm, a small (but mighty) start‑up, or even an individual researcher, the ethos of a Global Innovation Cluster is that everyone has something they can bring to the table.

And, while they’re all a little different, generally Global Innovation Clusters offer access to expertise, research, networks, events, communities, and possibly even funding to their members. But, since Global Innovation Clusters are independent and industry-led, they each have their own ways of doing things.

So, we wanted to share a few tips to help you get you started as a member.

The best part is: it doesn’t have to cost you anything!

Across Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters, there are (basically) two kinds of memberships.

1. Entry level

  • Typically free (with the exception of Protein Industries).
  • In return, you’ll get access to the Global Innovation Cluster’s community, its research, mentorship opportunities, networking events, new connections, resources, capacity building, and maybe even funding.

2. Partnership level

  • Usually costs money (depending on the Global Innovation Cluster, this could be as low as nothing at all or as much as $10,000).
  • Comes with an expectation that you’ll be co-investing in a project, but it also means you can get additional funding to lead your own projects.
  • In return, you’ll be involved in strategic and operational decisions for the Global Innovation Cluster, as well as getting access to the Global Innovation Cluster’s community, its research, networks, events, tools and other resources.

Joining a Global Innovation Cluster as a free member is a great, low-commitment way to access its research, networks and tools.

While entry level members aren’t necessarily expected to contribute financially, if you’re collaborating on a project you may need to contribute something in-kind. For example, as a not-for-profit, you might be able to offer your expertise, facilities, or even publicity opportunities.

Networking is key to finding collaboration opportunities

Now that you’re a member, you might be wondering where to start. It depends on what you want to do. But whether you’re interested in contributing to the Global Innovation Cluster’s knowledge capital, collaborating on a project, or even pitching a project of your own, the program suggests that you start by attending networking and events.

Each Global Innovation Cluster hosts regular networking events, mentorship activities, brainstorms, and funding webinars. The best first steps for your new membership is to attend these events. Learn, meet new people, get inspired, and from there you’ll be well on your way to finding the next connection to help you achieve your goals.

If you’re ready to take the next step, check out Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters in: Digital technology, Protein industries, Advanced manufacturing, Artificial intelligence, and Oceans.

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