Kat Bodkin

Kat Bodkin

Head of Science, Innovation & Policy

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network UK in Canada

20th December 2018 Toronto, Canada

Our Science and Innovation Relationship with Canada: Revamped!

Spotify, Shopify, Shazam, Hootsuite. The United Kingdom (UK) and Canada are home to some of the most innovative and successful companies in the world thanks to vibrant ecosystems of world leading incubators and universities, strong government support and highly skilled talent in both countries.

I am a science and innovation diplomat for the UK government overseas – part of the UK’s Science and Innovation Network, or SIN for short. My team and I work to strengthen our relationship with Canada– a country that punches well above its weight in research and innovation. We use science, research and innovation as tools to build diplomatic relationships and address shared challenges like climate change and healthy ageing.

Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne and British High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque.

Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne and British High Commissioner to Canada Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, at the signing of the MoU on Science, Technology and Innovation.

The relationship with Canada has flourished since last year’s signing of the UK-Canada Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Science, Technology and Innovation – and we have since joined forces on a range of missions, workshops and pilot projects to scope joint opportunities, leading to a stark increase in collaborations. SIN has been aligning our work with the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, which aim to tackle issues of global concern. Combining efforts with Canadians will only help to strengthen the solutions to these difficult issues. We’re also looking at how we can build on the Sector Deals in our engagement.

Driven by the Department Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK, joint funding has been allocated for: an £11 million Power Forward Challenge to develop smart energy systems, £10 million for business-led Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) projects, and £1 million for a pilot project to link the UK’s Catapult network with Canadian research labs.

And it hasn’t stopped there.

Mario Rivero-Huguet, Head of Science and Innovation in Montreal, with the winners of the UK-Canada AI Innovation Challenge.

SIN has led the development of a £150,000 joint AI Innovation Challenge, of smart grids R&D partnerships under the Power Forward Challenge, and a report on bilateral opportunities in Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS). We recently led a Canadian delegation of healthy ageing research/innovation organisations to the UK to cultivate partnerships. We brought UK companies operating in the smart grid/energy management space to Alberta to meet with likeminded Canadians who are interested in developing consortium for the Power Forward Challenge. We’re also planning activities for next year that will focus on the future of mobility, as well as quantum and creative industries.

Yusra Uzair, Head of Science, Innovation & Policy at the Toronto Consulate leads a Canadian delegation of healthy ageing experts on a mission to the UK.

Our team has already helped several companies to expand their cross-Atlantic reach! Cambridge-based company BIOS (formerly Cambridge Bio-Augmentation System) has raised about £3.5 million in seed funding from Montreal VCs.  Canadian success story Element AI has set up its first international office in London, UK, which will focus on AI for good. UK’s Aurrigo opened an office in Ottawa to conduct R&D in Canada. Assentian is now working with Canadian companies (Aion and SecureKey) on a blockchain R&D project, and Alchera Technologies has been accepted into Canada’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) accelerator programme. In addition, Canada’s OneEleven will be setting up shop in the UK in January 2019, with rumours of another leading Canadian accelerator also following suit- which would help to build even more more cross-Atlantic innovation.

Canada’s subnational governments have unique autonomy over areas like energy, health and environment. Examples of our engagement at the provincial level include work with Alberta through the UK-Alberta Low Carbon Innovation Framework, with Ontario under the agreement on Transformative Technologies, with British Columbia on innovation models, policies and best practice, and with Quebec as a key partner in neuroscience, battery and energy storage systems, AI and machine learning.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year as the as interest in working together has increased considerably! Our team is confident that we’ll continue to make significant moves towards economic and social benefits for both Canada and the UK.

4 comments on “Our Science and Innovation Relationship with Canada: Revamped!

  1. One of the obvious advantages of the opening of the NW passage is transport. Canada and the UK ,specifically Scotland will find routes to China and the east Asian market easier from ice melt. The tundra and shale gas export market is a further advantage. As is fishing and the outlook for wildlife whist difficult to ascertain, may have public support. Space ports, shipping and refineries are easy to see. Logging and land management are well established too..

  2. I enjoy reading your posts.In my opinion with the changing global environment the future is in AI.I remember reading Marvel comics in the 60-70’s and was fascinated with the Jetson family and how descriptive and user friendly world was depicted.Indeed people of your intellect globally will push the frontiers to that amazing world and bring it closer to reality.The future is indeed in space travel and flying automobiles.I shall look out for your blog on these subjects in the future and wish you all the success and admire your endeavours to promote the GB globally

    1. Thanks very much for your kind comment! I am glad that you enjoyed the post. I agree, AI is changing our world considerably! I’m sure AI will be used in very interesting ways as we continue towards space travel and passenger drones. I can’t wait to be able to hop in an Uber that can fly me around the city, or have my groceries delivered via drones! Seems far off in the future but probably not as far as we think with all of the fantastic research going on. Very best wishes, Kat

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