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September 07, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario

Keeping Canada at the top of its game

Manufacturing is Canada's largest business sector, accounting for more than 18 percent of our economic activity and employing more than 2 million people. But local and global pressures – such as a high Canadian dollar, volatile energy costs, globalization, and increasing demand for greener products – are affecting Canada's manufacturing performance. Meanwhile, rising input costs and demand for lower prices mean that industry is continually being asked to do more with less.

At NRC, we are taking major steps to support the materials and manufacturing sector by helping it to develop its technologies, by offering companies unprecedented support as they innovate and commercialize, and by expanding our stellar technology clustering efforts in communities across Canada. Our strategy is grounded in developing and sustaining partnerships with industry, academia, and all levels of government.

Working with partners across Canada, NRC labs are developing advanced materials and innovative processes to give Canadian companies a competitive edge in this important sector. Our research has applications ranging from aerospace to construction, and we also work on "enabling technologies" that enhance the value of materials research, such as nanotechnology and information technology. We are working hard on solutions to the environmental pressures facing this sector, including the need to reduce the use of fossil fuel-based materials. As an example of our work in this area, see the article in this issue of NRC Highlights about biodegradable plastics.

Canadian firms need to be globally competitive, but they often lack the resources to develop the unique solutions and capabilities that they need. NRC connects these companies with research networks, technical support, expertise and lab facilities to help them create innovative products. Read about a new lightweight goalie mask that was developed by a Canadian company with support from NRC.

Canada is one of the world's top two exporters of primary aluminium. In Quebec's Saguenay region, the NRC Aluminium Technology Centre acts as the hub of a thriving technology cluster that combines the strength of NRC with industry and R&D communities to overcome challenges in the aluminium business. Those challenges include everything from building lighter car components to developing the perfect snowshoe frame. NRC and its partners are also helping Canada to hone its long term game plan with a technology roadmap for Canada's aluminium transformation industry.

Competing in the global market is a team sport. And the more you practice with other excellent players, the better you get. To meet the challenge, we must blur the boundaries between organizations and pool our knowledge and expertise. In this economic and technological climate, it is increasingly clear that no industry can go it alone.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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