The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Panel Discussion on Innovation and Excellence – A New Era of Excellence: The Canada-Sweden Opportunity (Stockholm, Sweden)

Stockholm, Sweden, Tuesday, February 21, 2017



I was born just outside the town of Sudbury in northern Ontario, Canada. It’s a city famous for its mining industry and its minerals, left behind by a two-billion-year-old meteor impact.

But not long ago, a discovery of a very different nature was made there, which led to a  Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 for Dr. Arthur McDonald, whom we’re pleased to have as a member of our delegation on this State visit to Sweden!

The discovery that neutrinos oscillate and have mass occurred in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, a lab the size of a 10-storey building located 2 kilometres underground in a mine shaft!

It was a remarkable achievement, and Dr. McDonald will be the first to tell you it was a team effort. His Nobel Prize was shared with a researcher from the University of Tokyo, and hundreds of scientists, technicians, institutions and agencies from Canada, the United States, Britain and Portugal were involved.

Why do I tell this story?

To reaffirm the fact that collaboration lies at the heart of humanity’s greatest discoveries, innovations and advances. And indeed, that’s why we’re so pleased to be here today.

The Canada-Sweden relationship is exceptional. It has economic, scientific, cultural and political dimensions, and it’s grounded in our people-to-people ties.

And increasingly, our partnership is being defined by innovation, which is also among my priorities as governor general.

Canada, which marks its 150th birthday this year, admires Sweden’s excellent innovation ecosystem. This country is renowned as an innovation leader, whether in clean technology, information and communications technology, life sciences or high value engineering and manufacturing.

Canada is eager to collaborate and to strengthen its partnerships with Sweden. Opportunities to collaborate on research and development are enhanced thanks to Canada’s associate membership in the EU’s EUREKA and EUROSTARS funding program. Our 2010 Memorandum of Understanding on Science and Technology Cooperation is another case in point.

Canada is home to an impressive network of universities, hospitals and colleges actively engaged in research. We have a highly educated and skilled workforce, and we offer a strong environment in which to innovate and learn.

Now let me share a few specific examples of how we’re learning and innovating together.

  1. Smart cities: last April here in Stockholm, we held the Canada-EUREKA Smart Cities Partnering event, in which Montréal mayor Denis Coderre shared Montréal’s vision to become one of the most digitalized cities in the world.

  2. Renewable energy: thanks to a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding, BioFuelNet Canada and the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels are fostering exchanges in this important sphere.

  3. Arctic science and resources: also in 2015, Natural Resources Canada and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat signed a Cooperative Arrangement to foster science and innovation collaboration in the Arctic, specifically the Arctic Ocean. As founding members of the Arctic Council, Canada and Sweden are also co-operating on environmental protection, marine safety and sustainable development in the North.

  4. Health sciences: just this morning, our delegation, including Canada’s Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, visited the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinksa Institute, where the Mats Sundin Fellowship in Development Health is leading to exciting advances in this important health field.

Clearly, Canada and Sweden have a strong innovation foundation upon which to build.

And currently, a window of opportunity is opening in Canada-Sweden relations that will allow us to go even further.

Today’s discussion is aimed at helping us to identify the opportunities and to seize this moment of collaborative possibility.

Let’s have a frank discussion. What are the opportunities? What are our unique strengths, and how do we leverage them to mutual benefit?

This is our moment, and I’m so pleased to see you all here today and to be with a delegation of diverse and outstanding Canadians who share our goal of strengthening the partnership between our countries.

The theme of our visit is Innovative, Inclusive and Sustainable Societies, and this event is a highlight in what is shaping up to be a wonderful few days in Sweden.

Thank you all for being here and for your contributions to the Canada-Sweden partnership.