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Executive Summaries May 15, 2019

A Helping Hand for Manufacturing 4.0

At the Strategic Forum on the Innovative Manufacturer in Montreal on 10 May 2019, the Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, announced the creation of a Mecfor technology showcase and the launch of the Réseau de centres d’expertise industrielle 4.0. (known as "RCEI 4.0").

The 2019-2020 Budget allocates $5 million over five years. This amount is in addition to the $1.8 million financial contribution already allocated to support the establishment of the network. Réseau de centres d’expertise industrielle 4.0. (known as "RCEI 4.0") will enable the implementation of digital initiatives in order to facilitate their integration by manufacturing businesses. Manufacturing businesses will be supported by professionals from centres located in Montreal, Longueuil, Drummondville and Quebec City. 

In fact, Quebec manufacturing businesses need a helping hand. The automation rate in Quebec is 25%, compared to 55% in the United States and 75% in Germany. However, from 2014 to 2018, capital and repair expenditure and Canadian manufacturing R&D expenditure remained stable, and Quebec in particular is seriously behind. This is clearly illustrated in the Quebec Industrial Barometer (in French) recently issued by STIQ. The report clearly demonstrates the impact of underinvestment on business performance and productivity. 

What Are the Barriers to Digital Investment for Businesses in the Manufacturing Sector? 

According to a report produced by the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (in French), to which BCF has contributed, the barriers to digital investment in the manufacturing sector are related to humans, data, finance, technical challenges and a culture of innovation that needs to be fostered, especially among SMEs. Approximately twenty possible solutions were advanced during the Forum on 10 May, notably:

  • simplify the immigration process for skilled workers;
  • improve control over the use of data, which are key in the shift to 4.0;
  • encourage collaboration between businesses; and
  • provide examples of innovation projects by SMEs. 

The creation of Mecfor's technology showcase and the implementation of RCEI 4.0 are steps in the right direction for Quebec. However, much remains to be done to help Canada catch up, and Quebec in particular, to ensure its global competitiveness. 

BCF closely monitors the immigration process and data rules. We are actively involved in the implementation of several projects aimed at fostering collaboration, not only between industry stakeholders, but also with providers of services and technological solutions, financial partners and social and government stakeholders. These projects involve the creation of various creative legal structures, such as consortiums, corporations, licensing and partnerships agreements, as well as the judicious use of existing and future tax incentives. Just like the manufacturing sector, the legal and financial sectors and governments must innovate!

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