MRO Magazine

Canada supports manufacturing innovation through online networks


October 19, 2010
By PEM Magazine

Southern Ontario manufacturers will benefit from the rapid deployment of online manufacturing innovation networks, beginning in four regions of Eastern Ontario (Brockville, Greater Napanee, Arnprior, Cornwall, and Ottawa Valley), Chatham-Kent, Oxford Region (Ingersoll, Tillsonburg and Woodstock) and Windsor-Essex. 

Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium was recently awarded $597,000 for the project through the Community Adjustment Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).  Funding will support the publically accessible Interactive Manufacturing Innovation Networks (iMiN’s), as the first phase of a comprehensive Ontario-wide Manufacturing Innovation Network.

“Our government is committed to investing in our businesses and industries to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth,” said Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario. “These networks will help bolster innovation in southern Ontario’s manufacturing sector, bring new ideas to market and strengthen the region’s position as a key player in the global economy.”

Ontario’s iMiN (Interactive Manufacturing Innovation Network) is designed to be a fully meshed network of manufacturers, industry sectors, community partners, academic institutions and other stakeholders, which will grow to become a province-wide series of inter-connected manufacturing networks that facilitates and promotes awareness, excellence and innovation.


The iMiN initiative has been spearheaded by Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC) – Canada’s largest manufacturing consortium – a unique not-for-profit organization which provides primary expertise and industry resources to over 900 manufacturing companies in 53 regional consortiums, across 200+ communities in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.  EMC is managing and facilitating the development of the Ontario iMiN’s as locally driven initiatives that will be inclusive of all industry, individuals and public and private sector organizations who positively affect manufacturing. 

"As the saying goes, it takes a whole village to raise a child.  Similarly, we believe it takes the entire community to help a manufacturer to truly succeed," said Al Diggins, President and General Manager of EMC.  "Bringing together the entire spectrum of organizations and subject-matter-experts which enable manufacturers become more competitive and viable here at home, is key achieving long-term retention and expansion.  Using leading edge web 2.0 technology, iMiN will provide all manufacturers with the collaborative forum for creating awareness, excellence and innovation in their organizations, developing new market opportunities and enabling rapid access to all the resources that can help the manufacturer become more competitive."

“We are pleased to be selected for the launch of the first ever customized innovation network for the manufacturing sector," said Dave Paul, Director of Economic Development for the City of Brockville and President of the Economic Association of Canada. "Manufacturing industries have an increasing need to be connected in a changing global competitive environment, and where wealth generation is still foremost on most of our community economic strategies.  EMC has both the depth and experience to successfully execute this new ‘Facebook for Manufacturers’, being a leading Canadian proponent in supporting both the growth and retention of manufacturing employment and productivity.”

"Creating a more innovative manufacturing community through improved collaboration & knowledge sharing will give Chatham-Kent manufacturers an advantage while competing both locally and in the global economy," said Kathy Weis, Director Economic Development Services for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.  "iMiN will improve connections between people, information and expertise and will be the place to find out what’s happening in Chatham-Kent’s manufacturing sector.  Because this sector is a vital and growing part of our economy, using the web 2.0 technology brings us to a new level in facilitating our on-going and future success."

"EMC is a grassroots organization that has proven it is able to deliver great value, which is why we are supporting the development of an Oxford Manufacturing Innovation Network in partnership with them", said Cephas Panschow, Development Commissioner for the Town of Tillsonburg, on behalf of Oxford County colleagues Bill Mates, Director, Economic Development for the Town of Ingersoll and Len Magyar, Development Commissioner for the City of Woodstock. "We believe this initiative will help lead innovation locally thereby strengthening Oxford’s position as a manufacturing hub."

"Having a collaborative tool such as this available to our manufacturers will help provide them with a competitive edge in today’s market place, said Karolyn Hart, Vice President, Community Development and Strategic Initiatives for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation. "The ability to have quick and direct access to a number of resources at once is helping to fill a critical need."

With development well underway, EMC plans to launch each local iMiN before the end of the year, with early 2011 activities focused on growing network resources and participation.  The deployment phase of this initiative will conclude on or before Thursday, March 31, 2011, culminating in a sustainable series of public networks.