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Composites Research Network

January 25, 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Funding Announcement

Corresponding Document: News Release

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Dr. Burt, for your kind introduction, and thank you to today’s speakers: Dr. John Hepburn; Dr. Anoush Poursartip; Mr. Sean McKay; and our MC, Dr. Helen Burt.

Good morning, everyone. It’s great that you have been able to join us today. I would like to extend my appreciation to the University of British Columbia for having us here and being a part of this significant announcement. UBC has developed an outstanding reputation as one of Canada’s most successful learning centres.

After the global economic downturn, economic recovery remains fragile across Canada and we need to remain focused on implementing our Low-Tax Plan to Create Jobs and Growth. Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters – creating jobs and economic growth while returning to balanced budgets.

One of the West’s greatest strengths, and what we believe is a key economic driver, is the innovation being carried out at our world-class universities and colleges. There are countless brilliant ideas being fostered in these educational institutions. In many cases, economic benefits can be realized by bridging the gap that exists between these advancements and the commercial arena.

As Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, I have found that the success of Canada’s job-creating businesses and sectors demands both hard work and good ideas, and that is why we are here today.
Through Western Economic Diversification Canada, I am pleased to announce an investment of more than $9.8 million for the establishment of a Pan-Western Composites Research Network. It is critical that Canadian businesses adapt to evolving changes in their fields in order to remain competitive, and able to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

This investment will go a long way in creating the conditions that will help western Canadian aerospace, automotive, and marine manufacturing sectors succeed. Businesses in those sectors are increasingly using composite materials because they represent a durable, light-weight, lower cost alternative to use in their manufacturing processes. I have been told that Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, for example, has been manufactured with over 50 per cent composite materials. I also know that when companies like Boeing come looking for help with projects like the Dreamliner, western Canadian businesses need to be armed with the techniques and expertise to take advantage of these opportunities.

That is why a network like the one we are announcing today is critical to the growth and success of aerospace, automotive and marine business in Western Canada. The network will have centres of activity, or nodes, in each of the four western provinces, and each node will be located on a university campus or an alternative strategic location. Nodes will be the place where academics and businesses share the latest and greatest in research and the practical application of composite materials.

Through this sharing of information, the research that happens at universities like UBC will hit the shop floor years earlier. This will provide western Canadian businesses an advantage over their competitors - and that means jobs for Canadians.

Through investments like these we are taking another step to ensuring that western Canadian businesses have every chance to succeed.

We are working to support businesses and other organizations through partnerships and investments in innovation; research and development; trade and investment; and increased productivity. Ultimately, I believe this will help build towards a prosperous future for the West and all of Canada. In fact, the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan will invest in the key drivers of economic growth, such as innovation, investment, education and training. It will also seek to foster an environment in which all Canadians contribute to and benefit from a stronger economy.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate UBC and all of the organizations and businesses involved in the network. We look forward to seeing the innovations that emerge from the partnerships that are created through this initiative.

Thank you. Merci.