Jockeying for position as a hub for electric vehicle and battery manufacturing, the Ontario government has officially launched a $56.4-million auto initiative to support small and medium-sized industry players, and give researchers the resources required to scale-up.
Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, was at General Motors Canada’s Canadian Technical Centre in Markham, Ont., Thursday to inaugurate the new Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN).
“Right now, across our province, over 300 businesses are already working on inventing the future of clean, connected transportation,” he said in a statement.
Fedeli said the four-year program, first revealed in the 2021 budget, will support domestic parts suppliers, as well as other innovators working on electric and autonomous vehicles, and the technologies that underpin them.
OVIN builds off the previous Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN), launched in 2017 under the previous Liberal government. Worth $85 million over five years, AVIN has so far backed 372 small- and medium-sized auto firms, creating $108 million in follow-on investment, the province said.
New funding carve-outs under OVIN include a financing stream for both EV and battery research and development, a Northern Ontario technology development site and a program aimed at attracting leading talent to the province. Along with financial support, the initiative looks to bring siloed industry actors together, serving as a conduit for new partnerships and joint development work.
OVIN is one part of the province’s recently updated Driving Prosperity plan, which is designed to keep Ontario auto assembly plants and parts suppliers at the forefront of electric and autonomous vehicle technology.
Ontario has secured electrified product commitments for four of its auto assembly plants, but has yet to move the needle on attracting battery manufacturers, which is seen as a key step in ensuring the longevity of the province’s auto sector.