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Bridging Automotive Research and Industry: Canada and Michigan Partnership Takes Spotlight at Innovation Summit

By: Megan Lasley 

More than 80 attendees, including 18 Canadian colleges, 12 Canadian companies, and numerous industry experts and leaders came together in Detroit on March 22 to discuss the unique opportunities the United States and Canada share in regards to the automotive industry.

Douglas George, consul general of Canada in Detroit, started off the day discussing the unique advantages that both countries share.

“There are no other two countries that share such a close relationship in the automotive industry. We continually come together to explore opportunities across the border. We share joint challenges and success.”

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, echoed George’s comments by stating, “This is the most tightly integrated social relationship on the planet. Not only between the United States and Canada but Michigan and Ontario, Detroit and Windsor, we all act as one economic region.”

Baruah discussed the region’s unique advantages including direct access to an international border that other countries lack. With this advantage, Detroit, Michigan, and Canada are the epicenter for next generation automobility.

The key to succeed, is to continue to work together. “We cannot succeed alone, only together,” Baruah said.

Ross McKenzie, managing director of WatCAR, at the University of Waterloo, rounded out the morning remarks by focusing on making Detroit, Ann Arbor and Flint a trifecta for access to talent, automotive technology, materials and innovative ideas. This partnership between the United States, Michigan and Ontario, is one of the most successful business relationships between key industry players.

The day was also filled with numerous panels, covering topics of importance like lightweighting, advanced manufacturing and electrification.

Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of mobility initiatives at the Chamber, moderated a panel on connected and automated vehicle technology and artificial intelligence. One key focus was the partnership not only with Canada and the United States, but also collaboration between government and industry leaders which is imperative to bring autonomous and artificial technology to market. Panelists agreed that there is a hierarchical platform of diversity and technology with access like no other place in the world between the two countries; it is not something you can replicate anywhere else.

Both Canada and the United States, but specifically Detroit and Ontario, offer the most potential in working towards the next step in mobility. The day ended with a renewed focus on cross-country collaboration and sharing ideas to keep Michigan, Canada and the United States a world powerhouse for vehicle testing, development and innovation.

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