National Research Council Canada-NRC

National Research Council Canada-NRC

March 10, 2008 09:48 ET

Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean's Aluminium Transformation Sector Receives a $27-Million Investment from Government of Canada

Public-private partnerships secure Canada's competitive advantage in aluminium transformation

SAGUENAY, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - March 10, 2008) - - A vibrant cluster of firms, government organizations and university researchers working in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean's "Aluminium Valley" received a welcome $27-million boost from the Government of Canada today. On behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the National Research Council (NRC), the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, met with local stakeholders at the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre to confirm support for NRC's aluminium transformation cluster initiative.

"Canada is one of the world's key producers of aluminium, and Quebec's Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region is the industry's hub," said Minister Blackburn. "Using this raw material to create value-added, semi-finished and finished products - auto parts as an example - generates jobs, revenue and economic activity. Turning knowledge into a competitive advantage is a cornerstone of our Science and Technology Strategy, released last May and reinforced in Budget 2008."

"By nurturing key partnerships with local aluminium transformation stakeholders in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, NRC has taken a regional approach to stimulating groundbreaking research, disseminating world-leading knowledge and commercializing promising technologies, said Dr. Richard Normandin, Vice-President, NRC Physical Sciences. "This $27-million investment will enhance existing networks and create new linkages to develop advanced forming and assembling technologies and other processes that transform aluminium into the durable, lightweight components that many industries want."

Today's investment will build on the success of this initiative and lead to more tangible results in the region, such as jobs and revenue creation. As a result of this initiative, small and medium-sized enterprises now have access to new leading-edge technologies and over 350 researchers are now directly involved in aluminium research and development (R&D) activities, the largest concentration in Canada. Formal research collaborations between industry, NRC and university researchers on themes of national importance have also increased.

This success to date can be attributed to Government of Canada investments, private sector partners who have invested over $14.2 million in the cluster, and the Government of Québec, which has committed over $7 million.

Technology clusters are broad-based community partnerships among industry, universities and colleges and all levels of government, focused on building a competitive advantage for Canada through research and innovation. These S&T partnerships position communities to attract talent, investment and economic activity.

In addition to six Western and Central Canada technology cluster initiatives, NRC also spearheads initiatives in Regina: Sustainable Urban Infrastructure; Fredericton/Moncton: Information Technology and e-Business; Halifax: Life Sciences; Charlottetown: Nutrisciences and Health; and St. John's: Ocean Technology.

About Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean's Aluminium Transformation Cluster

Canada is one of the world's top two exporters of primary aluminium and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean's "Aluminium Valley" plays a lead role on the world stage. More than 90 percent of Canada's aluminium is produced within 400 kilometres of the city of Saguenay and more than 350 researchers work in the cluster. NRC's R&D facility in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean provides cluster stakeholders with wide-ranging support as they explore and then capitalize on profitable ways to transform aluminium into the durable, lightweight components that many industries want.

A commitment to greater energy efficiency, improved durability and better performance means the auto parts industry, for example, offers a massive market for aluminium transformation technologies." Automotive original equipment manufacturer giants such as General Motors now seek out reliable, lightweight aluminium parts that can be up to 40 percent lighter than their steel counterparts - and look to Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for innovations to help them reach their goals. As a result, the amount of aluminium used to manufacture cars has risen by more than 130 percent since 1998.

The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean aluminium transformation initiative is one of six NRC technology cluster initiatives that have received renewed investments of $118 million over three years from the Government of Canada. Others include: Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies in Vancouver; Nanotechnology in Edmonton; Plants for Health and Wellness in Saskatoon; Photonics in Ottawa and Biomedical Technologies in Winnipeg.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice
    Minister of Industry
    Deirdra McCracken
    Press Secretary
    National Research Council Canada
    Alain Simard
    Communications Officer
    Office of the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn
    Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic
    Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
    Jean-Philippe Payment, Press Secretary
    National Research Council Canada
    Janice Nurski
    Media Relations