Canada IN3 Seminar

Strengthening Canada–Japan business connections

Held on October 10 at the Embassy of Canada to Japan in Tokyo, the Canada IN3 Seminar drew a broad range of attendees who wanted to learn about the opportunities for investment in Canada.

Canadian Ambassador to Japan Ian Burney opened the seminar, explaining that the event was meant to put a spotlight on the three critical pillars of Canada’s economic growth strategy: investment, innovation and infrastructure — the three INs of IN3 that gave the seminar its name. Burney highlighted these pillars’ importance in the “rich and multifaceted relationship that Canada enjoys with Japan.”

An address by Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hirofumi Takinami followed Burney’s remarks. Takinami spoke about the long-standing business and diplomatic ties between Canada and Japan, and the great opportunities available to Japanese businesses in Canada.

Next to speak was Dominic Burton, global managing partner emeritus of Mackenzie & Company, who is also the key economic advisor to the Canadian government and chair of the Canadian Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth. Explaining that the world is going through a period of considerable social and economic change, Burton argued that Canada and Japan have the potential to provide a positive example that other nations can follow.


Three presentations followed the opening statements. Ian McKay, the CEO of Invest in Canada, gave the first presentation. He explained that Japanese investment in Canada has traditionally been focused on the automotive, forestry, oil and gas, mining, aerospace and other industries. But he pointed out that Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative could change how Japan invests in Canada. This initiative focuses on five areas of technology:

  • Digital Technology Supercluster, which will harness the power of big data and other digital technologies
  • Protein Industries Supercluster, which will concentrate on developing new plant proteins
  • Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, which will apply new technologies to manufacturing
  • SCALE.AI Supercluster, which will seek to build intelligent supply chains using AI and robotics
  • Ocean Supercluster, which will focus on ocean-based industries, such as fisheries and clean energy

As McKay explained, these superclusters offer Japanese companies the opportunity to add their technical expertise to a variety of cutting-edge projects.

Iain Stewart, president of the National Research Council of Canada, spoke about one of the drivers of the Canadian innovation system: its national chain of research universities. As Stewart explained, “This system of course not only undertakes research, it produces ideas and it produces talent. It has a constant outflow to the Canadian innovation system.”

He pointed out that Japan was a great match for Canada, because Japan excels in both basic research and the commercialization of scientific breakthroughs.

Pierre Lavallée, president and CEO of the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB), talked about the growing interest, on the part of private and institutional investors, in Canadian infrastructure projects, which have the potential to offer a healthy return on investment.

The CIB, created to bridge the gap between government-funded infrastructure projects and privately funded projects, is seeking overseas investors.

AI Investment

Concluding the seminar was Naoko Yoshizawa, executive vice president and vice head of Digital Services Business at Fujitsu. She spoke about the reason Fujitsu decided to set up its global headquarters for AI in Vancouver.

As she explained, the pipeline of innovation that the university system supports, the proximity to innovation hubs such as Toronto and Silicon Valley, and Vancouver’s reasonable business costs all combined to make the choice a clear one.

As a clear example of how a Japanese business can play a driving role in Canada’s innovation economy, it was an excellent way to close the seminar. Attendees then adjourned to a convivial networking reception in the embassy.

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