Canadian Supercluster Helping Manufacturers Build Strategic Supply to Support COVID Efforts

NGen co-funded projects total over $60 million in new advanced manufacturing capacity

HAMILTON, Ontario, Jan. 21, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), the industry-led organization behind Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, has announced over $27 million in funding for winners in its Strategic Supply Challenge.

The competition, which ran last summer, challenged companies to employ advanced manufacturing technologies to build a sustainable, made-in-Canada, cost competitive supply of critical products that can be used in Canada’s fight against COVID-19 and beyond. The challenge funding supports twelve Canadian companies and their project partners, representing a total combined investment of over $60 million to develop advanced manufacturing projects.

“These projects are not simply investments in products to address the pandemic,” said Jayson Myers, CEO, NGen. “They are investments in advanced manufacturing processes and technologies that will help meet the immediate needs created by COVID-19, while also developing a sustainable, globally competitive and cost-effective domestic supply that can be applied to industry needs beyond the pandemic.”

“The demands created by COVID-19 highlighted the importance of understanding supply networks and building a stable, made-in-Canada supply of critical products,” said Ali Ehsassi, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “These new projects developed by innovative Canadian companies, and supported through NGen, will allow businesses to improve the resiliency and reliability of their critical supply networks to meet their immediate needs, while creating world-leading manufacturing capabilities that will support Canadian competitiveness in the long term.”

NGen allocated up to $30 million to co-invest in projects that focus on strengthening Canadian manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. Winning projects were selected based on critical needs identified by the Government of Canada, the long-term viability of manufacturing those products in Canada, and the ability of manufacturers to produce products that are safe for use and meet required product and production quality standards.


The projects approved for NGen co-investment, and selected by a panel of independent experts, include:

  • Providence Therapeutics Holdings Inc., Toronto, ON and partner Northern RNA Inc., Calgary, AB are working on the development of a made-in-Canada COVID-19 mRNA vaccine and are seeking to expand Providence's vaccine manufacturing capacity in Canada to meet the needs of Canadians. This project will establish mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity within Canada and build a raw material supply chain that supports an exciting new industry. Pending successful clinical trials and Health Canada approval, a successful COVID-19 vaccine will be in extremely high demand globally.

  • The BIG-nano Corporation., Waterloo, ON along with partners Swenco, Waterloo, ON, IPC Technologies dba Prescientx, Cambridge, ON, APC Filtration, Brantford, ON, and Titan Clean Energy Project Corp., Craik, SK, has developed a project to develop melt blown nanofiber filter material for the production of PPE and air purification filters. Compared to conventional microfiber filter media, nanofiber filter media has higher filtration efficiencies, longer filter life and provides easier breathability. This project will use Big-nano's technology to reduce Canada’s reliance on foreign suppliers for critical nanofiber meltblown material by developing world-class material, creating a globally competitive cost structure and mass production capacity in Canada.

  • McRae Imaging, Mississauga, ON, has partnered with DOT Automation, Concord, ON, and Lumentra Inc., Toronto, ON, to develop an advanced manufacturing facility for the production of nanomaterial fabrics that provide a long-lasting antimicrobial shield. The initial manufactured product will be a seat cover that provides an antimicrobial barrier for up to 5 months, bolstered by the UV light accessory that will reactivate the coating periodically.  It is suitable for locations where disinfecting between uses by different occupants is not possible, such as in movie theatres, healthcare facilities, public transport, sports stadia, and classrooms. 

  • Fine Cotton Factory, Etobicoke, ON, has partnered with Microbonds Inc., Markham, ON, to scale up the manufacturing process of copper infused antimicrobial textile material to achieve mass production of reliable, washable, reusable materials for PPE applications. Over the long-term, the expertise, equipment and skilled labour gained will support the ongoing development of new and improved materials in response to market demand. The development of techniques for accurate, repeatable methods for textile manufacturing will present a major competitive advantage within the exploding market for metal-infused textiles in healthcare.

  • Fidelity Machine & Mould, Calgary, AB, has partnered with Sentient Tools Engineering Corp., Edmonton, AB, to improve the manufacturing process for medical grade surgical and procedural face masks. Fidelity will use advanced manufacturing technologies to make improvements to mask manufacturing machines, develop fully automated production equipment, create a recycling module to reuse waste materials, and use alternative materials to produce filtration layers.

  • IPC Technologies dba Prescientx, Cambridge, ON, has partnered with BIG-nano., Waterloo, ON to scale up the production of a disposable, self-sanitizing, sterilizable, reusable N100 face mask. This new mask will set a higher filtration bar for performance than the current N95 masks, using new made-in-Canada materials and automation equipment, strengthening Canada's position in PPE manufacturing. The collaborative team forms an Ontario-based hub for respiratory PPE manufacturing excellence that includes the project partners as well as Eclipse Automation, JOMI Engineering, UWaterloo, UGuelph, McMasterU, Hamilton Health Sciences and UHN. The combined partner expertise will enable the development of spin-off products including reusable mask PPE with disposable filters for medical, industrial and consumer products. The automation equipment can also be repurposed to produce other types of masks and non-mask products such as HVAC filters.

  • Molded Precision Components (MPC), Oro Medonte, ON has partnered with Niigon Machines Ltd., Vaughan, ON, to develop new advanced manufacturing techniques to create systems capable of producing and packaging hand sanitizer and similar liquid products in a continuous process. MPC are developing a vertically integrated Advanced Manufacturing Business Park (MediCA Park) to secure Canada’s Healthcare supply chain that will include companies that can collaborate to offer a complete ecosystem solution from raw material to finished product, warehousing and priority distribution. Within MediCA Park, the group of companies will be capable of meeting Canadian demand for medical products under routine operation and in times requiring expedited or extraordinary response. MediCA Park will become the home of the vertically-integrated, hand sanitizer manufacturing facility, as well as MPC’s advanced injection moulding operations for medical components and products.

  • Titan Clean Energy Project Corp., Craik, SK, and partners Panther Industries Inc., Davidson, SK, BIG-nano., Waterloo, ON, K+S Potash Canada, Saskatoon, SK, and Canada Masq, Richmond Hill, ON, are developing a process that will build a 100% Canadian supply of biodegradable melt-blown fabric for use in PPE and HEPA filters. This project will produce biodegradable melt-blown resin and fabric that is comprised of 100% renewable Canadian biomaterials, replacing the highly polluting fossil-fuel derived resins that are currently imported from Asia, Europe and USA. The benefits include reduced air pollution, a lower carbon footprint, and improved and biodegradable N95 masks and HEPA filter products.

  • Carmina De Young Fashion Design Inc., London, ON, and partners LifeCycle Revive Inc., Brantford, ON, and LifeCycle Health Inc., London, ON are developing a self-contained, sustainable supply chain for 100% Canadian-made disposable isolation gowns and related PPE such as coveralls, masks, caps and foot covers. The lifecycle approach involves reclaiming polypropylene waste from hospitals and reprocessing, using treatments to remove contaminants, ensuring the product is safe and meets Health Canada standards and certifications. The recycled material will be made into a nonwoven textile that is the source material to produce disposable PPE produced by CY Health, a division of Carmina de Young.

  • Artofix, Longueuil, QC, has partnered with Roswell DHT, Calgary, AB to produce a high-quality N95 respirator in response to the global demand for PPE. The Artofix N95 respirator, using Roswell’s meltblown filter material, is made of hypoallergenic materials sourced in Canada and provides a unique shape and seal that provides users with a reliable and comfortable fit. The core supply chain for the Artofix N95 mask is entirely Canadian and will bolster Canada’s strategic supply of essential inputs for PPE. With the development of automated production lines, the consortium will build a collaborative production chain which will reduce costs, increase flexibility and improve product quality while ensuring a sustainable competitive advantage for the partners.

  • International Point of Care INC. (IPOC), Toronto, ON and partners Precision Biomonitoring Inc. Cambridge, ON, Immune Response Diagnostics Inc., Etobicoke, ON, and Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary, AB are working to expand the capacity of the IPOC advanced manufacturing facilities to cope with increased demands of COVID-19 biological reagents and assay components which are used in the manufacture of several antigen, virus and serology tests. Reagents are critical to all diagnostic tests, but platforms have remained unchanged for 30 years. Through novel technology applications, the consortia aims to improve the performance, stability and production capacity of novel test systems and reagents.

  • Novo Textile Company LTD dba Novo Textiles, Coquitlam, BC has partnered with Harbour Technologies, Windsor, ON to manufacture the first Made in Canada, N99/PFE99 and N95/PFE95 automated machine to produce cup shaped molded respirators. The Canadian-designed, engineered, and fabricated automation equipment is a milestone endeavour. The equipment will be used to manufacture N99 and N95 cup shaped molded surgical respirators at Novo’s head offices in BC. The project disrupts the current PPE manufacturing industry as it pushes boundaries with new manufacturing technologies, built-in testing capabilities and fully automated systems. The new equipment will provide customized flexibility to modify materials and mask fit, creating the highest level of quality and test-controlled respirators within the Canadian marketplace.

About NGen - Next Generation Manufacturing Canada

NGen is the industry-led not-for-profit organization that leads Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster. Its mandate is to help build world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities in Canada for the benefit of Canadians. NGen works to strengthen collaboration among its membership of more than 3,000 manufacturers, technology companies, innovation centres, and researchers, and provides funding and business support to industry-led initiatives that aim to develop, apply, or scale-up transformative manufacturing solutions in Canada for commercialization in global markets.

Associated links
Next Generation Manufacturing Canada
NGen COVID-19 Response: Made Smarter - Strategic Supply Challenge

Media contact:
Robbie MacLeod,
Next Generation Manufacturing Canada