International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan Announces Launch of Science and Technology Initiatives

International Trade Minister says investing in innovation boosts Canadian economy

(No. 261 - August 18, 2010 - Noon ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today announced a joint investment of $3.7 million for six new science and technology projects that involve more than 60 companies and universities in Canada and Brazil.

“These investments will bring together the best private sector researchers in both Canada and Brazil,” said Minister Van Loan. “The ultimate objective is to enhance research, foster innovation, and create new technologies, which in turn create jobs and wealth for Canadians and Brazilians.”

Of the six new jointly funded projects, three are joint research projects and three are partnership development initiatives. The Government of Canada is contributing $975,000 under the International Science and Technology Partnerships Program. Other Canadian partners are contributing $1.15 million, and the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and other Brazilian partners are contributing $1.56 million.

The joint research projects focus on breakthroughs in fibre optics, biodegradable plastics and satellite technology. The development activities will bring researchers together to study the future of geomatics, wireless telecommunications and nanotechnology.

“Through the International Science and Technology Partnerships Program, the Government of Canada is building stronger strategic partnerships abroad and advancing the commercialization of research and development for Canadian business,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources. “Programs such as these make a real impact in communities where small and medium-sized enterprises thrive.”

The successful projects were selected from 33 submissions to International Science and Technology Partnerships Canada (ISTPCanada), an arm’s-length organization that delivers the five-year, $20-million International Science and Technology Partnerships Program on behalf of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. The program funds joint research and development projects put forward by industry and academic research institutions.

Views from partners and industry

“I have no doubt that there is a great potential for creativity in the joint work of Brazilian and Canadian researchers,” said Sérgio Rezende, Brazil’s Minister of Science and Technology. “This collaboration, now supported by a strong agreement, will bring significant benefits to our science, technology and innovation agenda, expanding the productive capacity and competitiveness of companies from both countries. We have great expectations of the cooperation with Canada.”

“These projects will support the development of a strategic Canada-Brazil research and development agenda, and provide tangible ways for Canadian and Brazilian companies to capitalize on the associated market opportunities,” said Dr. Henri Rothschild, President and Chief Executive Officer, ISTPCanada.

“The International Science and Technology Partnerships Program gives us the opportunity to collaborate with our partner in Brazil on a level that we would not, at this time, be able to achieve otherwise, accelerating our product developments and enhancing our competitiveness in the terrestrial fiber optic market worldwide, and particularly South America,” said Dr. Morrel Bachynski, President, MPB Communications Inc.

To learn more, please visit International Science and Technology Partnerships Program.

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A backgrounder on the Canada-Brazil science and technology projects follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Monika Bujalska
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Backgrounder - Canada-Brazil Science and Technology Projects

The International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP), promotes international collaborative research and development activities. The program will increase the international competitiveness and prosperity of Canada by building stronger science and technology relationships with countries such as Israel, India, China and Brazil.

Details of the research and development projects

1. Amplified wavelength converter

Description: The partners aim to create a new optical amplifier technology that will increase the capability and efficiency of optical ground-wire networks. This innovation will enable utilities such as gas, electricity and water to boost the reliability of their networks, while reducing the associated operational costs.

Lead partners: MPB Communications Inc. (Canada); FiberWork Optical Communications Ltd. (Brazil)

2. Recyclable plastic for electrical and electronic devices

Description: The lead partners aim to create a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the third most widely produced plastic in the world. As PVC contains toxic chemicals that can leach out and contaminate the environment, the team proposes to create an alternative biodegradable plastic that could be used in electrical and electronic devices.

Lead partners: Casco Inc. (Canada); Plasmacro Indústria e Comércio de Polímeros Ltda. (Brazil)

Other participants: University of Toronto (Canada); Corn Products Brasil (Brazil); Federal University of São Carlos (Brazil); UNESP-São Paulo State University (Brazil)

3. Microwave development for satellite telecommunications transmission

Description: The lead partners aim to develop a new coaxial power splitter for telecommunication and data transmission for use in space satellites. This innovative product would significantly reduce the cost of power splitters for complex communication systems, would open new markets and ultimately would increase the competitiveness of both companies.

Lead partners: COM DEV International Ltd. (Canada); Orbital Engenharia Ltda. (Brazil)

4. Geomatics software research and development

Description: Geomatics engineering is an emerging discipline of spatial information. The lead partners, with participation from other companies and universities, will host two events, one in Canada and one in Brazil, to bring together experts and to explore the research and development partnerships leading to the development of new technologies and related applications in geomatics.

Lead partners: MRF Geosystems Corporation (Canada); Engemap Geoinformação (Brazil)

5. Mobile information and communication technology: digital media research and development exchange

Description: Recognizing the enormous potential of the wireless market, the lead companies will bring together 75 partners to host workshops to explore opportunities for research and development and business collaboration in mobile communication and digital media.

Lead partners: Ontario College of Art and Design (Canada); Mobilefest (Brazil)

6. Symposium for research and development in nanotoxicology

Description: Nanotechnology is the science of designing, producing and using extremely small particles. Although nanotechnology is an exciting emerging field, the potential risks associated with this technology remain largely unexplored. The lead partners will organize a multidisciplinary symposium to fill this void. The outcomes of the event could lead to the creation of new discoveries that enable scientists, innovators and policy-makers to ensure the safe research, development and application of nanotechnology.

Lead partners: University of Québec in Montreal (Canada); Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil)