As one of the key drivers of Ontario’s economy, the automotive industry relies on innovation to ensure it stays globally competitive.
Fueling that innovation is exactly what Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and some of its partners are doing through programs that will move more automotive-based research from the classroom to the showroom.
OCE, on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, will invest $1 million supporting driverless and connected vehicles as well as teaming up with AUTO21 to provide 50 students with practical automotive industry R&D experience.
“Ontario’s automotive sector is an important part of the province’s economy and we are excited to be able to support it through our programs,” said Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence. “Through strategic investments, these programs will result in dynamic projects and opportunities that will accelerate development of next generation automotive technologies in Ontario.”
In June, OCE will begin accepting proposals from Ontario companies and academics under the Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle (CVAV) program.
Connected vehicles use wireless technology to link with other vehicles, transportation infrastructure and mobile devices, making it easier for drivers to access the information they need to drive safe. Developing leading edge connected vehicle technology in Ontario has the potential to help increase road safety, reduce traffic congestion and minimize driver distraction.
“Ontario is already a leader in auto manufacturing, but with this support, we are poised to also be a leader in connected car technology,” said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. “In this highly competitive global economy, investing in people’s talents and skills to create new and innovative technologies is not only good for business, but it means safer roads and the easier movement of goods and services across the province.”
OCE’s other auto-related program is through its TalentEdge Internship Program in partnership with AUTO21.
The two organizations are working together with the private sector to support up to 50 practicums (four-month learning opportunities with Ontario-based industry partners) valued at $20,000 each that will provide graduate students and undergraduate students in their final year of study with real-world experience. Students will work on automotive-related research projects jointly developed by an academic supervisor and a private sector host.
“OCE and AUTO21 have a great history of working together to advance automotive research and development in Ontario,” said Dr. Corr. “This new initiative, which falls under our TalentEdge Internship Program, is going to support the kind of real world experience that is needed to see great ideas become great innovations with the resulting economic benefit.”
The program will introduce students to practical business and technical problems and provide them with the opportunity to put their scientific and technical expertise to work addressing the needs of participating companies. On the flip side, those companies receive a cost-effective way to conduct R&D while students gain relevant industry experience that enhances their studies.
“Students at our educational institutions are Canada’s future leaders,” said Dr. Peter Frise, AUTO21 Scientific Director and CEO. “By working on collaborative projects with industry, students will develop cutting-edge knowledge and practical expertise as they contribute to a sustainable automotive industry for Canada. We are thrilled to add a new facet to our successful relationship with the Ontario Centres of Excellence by integrating students and industry to ensure the automotive sector in Canada remains competitive.”
Hundreds of thousands of jobs are directly tied to the manufacture and sale of cars and trucks which now pumps about $16 billion into Canada’s economy each year. Ontario is also home to 12 production facilities operated by five global automotive manufacturers, more than 700 parts producers such as Magna, Linamar, Woodbridge Group and KSR International, and approximately 500 tool, die and mold outfits.