Canada's Ocean Supercluster has had its mandate renewed by the Canadian government for another five years, although the federal money it will receive over that period has been cut compared to its previous funding package.

When Ottawa created the Ocean Supercluster in 2018, it earmarked $153 million to fund the organization until this year. This time, the Supercluster will receive up to $125 million. The government announced the renewed  funding for all five superclusters two weeks ago, though it received little attention at the time. 

The Ocean Supercluster is one of five such groups nationally that organize and jointly fund research and development collaborations with industry players like startups, with each cluster operating in a different sector. CEO Kendra MacDonald and her team have also inked research partnerships with similar bluetech groups in other countries, most recently Portugal.

“The clusters have adopted the following common missions: expanding their global presence, collaborating among the clusters to deepen their impact, fighting climate change, building more resilient supply chains, and supporting the growth and scale-up of Canadian companies," said the federal government in a statement.

"The clusters will also aim to increase industry co-investment by raising their industry match ratio, which will result in further positive impact on job creation and GDP.”

The federal government press release did not clarify whether it will be the Superclusters or their private sector partners that pay a larger portion of project costs under the increased industry matching ratio.

During its last mandate, the Ocean Supercluster’s target was to steward about $350 million worth of research and development work with a matching ratio of about one-to-one, meaning government and the private sector provided about equal amounts of funding across the Supercluster’s project portfolio.

All five clusters have agreed to prioritize increasing collaboration among themselves, as well as conducting research that contributes to supply chain resilience and job creation. In total, the federal government has committed to spending another $750 million on the Supercluster program, down from $950 million five years ago.

Last year, the Ocean Supercluster held an event outlining to stakeholders its plans for the next five years, which included a shift to focus more on climate change mitigation, consistent with its new mandate.

“We have made (climate) its own pillar in terms of investment,” said CEO MacDonald at the time. “And we have assumed it to be a building block of all pillars in terms of strategic areas.

“The messaging around sustainability was not there at the very beginning, but it came very quickly.”

She said the other three pillars of a renewed supercluster would be large-scale energy production, sustainable seafood and transportation based on consultations with the private sector.