Why These 3 Canadian Cities Are Ideal for Events in Advanced Manufacturing

World-class expertise and pioneering inventions are shaping the future of meetings in Winnipeg, Ottawa and the Waterloo Region.

Experts in Excellence
Experts in Excellence
Destination Canada Business Events' specific knowledge of this vast land makes this team a first stop for executives and organizers in key industry sectors seeking to tailor the right package for their event, whatever the size. Learn more at businesseventscanada.ca.

A world leader in the advanced manufacturing space, Canada’s collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit and cutting-edge event infrastructure has made it a top choice for events looking to access the country's exceptional knowledge capital by hearing from expert speakers or visiting state-of-the-art facilities. 

Known for its specialization in multiple sub-sectors — everything from aviation to automation and from additive manufacturing to nanotechnology — Canada is home to a diverse range of world-renowned manufacturing firms. Together, this ecosystem is embracing next-generation technologies and processes, transforming how components and products are developed, built and distributed world-wide.

The country's Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, based in Ontario and led by the non-profit Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), plays a large role in this. Supported by organization like MaRS, IBM and Aéro Montréal, the Supercluster has been involved in over 165 projects valued at a total of over $605M, which are positioning Canada as a future-forward sector leader. Thanks to ongoing investment in R&D and a top-notch regulatory framework, Canada is ranked third globally for civil aircraft production, with many of the world's largest advanced manufacturing companies expanding their operations in, or moving to, Canada — including Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier.

Thanks to Canada’s knowledge capital, highly educated workforce and the availability of raw materials and clean energy, many of today’s emerging technologies are being developed here. Improvements in Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics are also revolutionizing operations, improving worker safety, and inspiring future creators. 

Canada's knowledge capital isn't the only thing attracting events in this sector. The country's stunning landscapes, easy accessibility and warm hospitality prove attractive for delegates wanting to enjoy top-notch culinary and cultural experiences, as well as legendary activities, outside of the conference room. Here’s what makes three dynamic Canadian cities — Waterloo, Ottawa, and Winnipeg — a driving force in the advanced manufacturing sector, and ideal destinations for business events.

The Waterloo Region: A global technology hub

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The University of Waterloo, which houses Canada's largest engineering school and the new Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab, is just one of several world-class educational institutions based in the Waterloo Region. Photo Credit: Waterloo Regional Tourism

Home to Canada’s largest robotics and automation cluster, Waterloo has played a leading role in advanced manufacturing for more than a century. The 1,850 manufacturing companies and 400 tech firms headquartered here make Waterloo the fourth-largest manufacturing sector in Canada, with close to 50,000 people working in the industry. Companies like Christie Digital, Toyota Canada, ATS Automation and Canadian General-Tower Ltd are innovating in subsectors like automation, robotics and fabricated metals. 

Centers of Excellence
Centers of Excellence
Canada is an ideal destination for business events in numerous innovative sectors. Click here to learn about Canada's leadership in sectors including technology, agribusiness, life sciences and more.

Training bright minds to boost the area’s talent pipeline, Waterloo has three world-class academic institutions — Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, which houses Canada's largest engineering school and the new Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab — one of the largest R&D additive manufacturing facilities in the world. 

The region also boasts more than 150 research institutes, including the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), the Centre for Smart Manufacturing, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, The Accelerator Centre and Catalyst 137 — the world’s largest IoT manufacturing space.

Other manufacturing giants here include Frito-Lay Canada, Bend All Automotive and Ultra Manufacturing Ltd. Trailblazers, like DarwinAI’s Explainable AI, help manufacturers like Audi and Lockheed Martin launch new processes, improve efficiencies and boost profits through technology that inspects products through adaptive factory automation. 

With easy air, rail and road access to many North American markets, Waterloo’s convenient location within an hour of the Greater Toronto Area makes it an ideal choice for conference delegates who want to enjoy a blend of urban experiences with a welcoming small-town vibe. 

Waterloo has a culture of collaboration, and although our global reputation is in tech, our foundation is in manufacturing.
Ian McLean, president and CEO of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce

“Waterloo has a culture of collaboration, and although our global reputation is in tech, our foundation is in manufacturing,” says Ian McLean, president and CEO of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. “The strengths that have made Waterloo a global technology hub have also made our community a leader in cutting-edge robotics and automation. Waterloo Region has the local expertise, infrastructure and knowledge cluster that has made our annual Manufacturing Summit a success for over 10 years.” 

Some recent advanced manufacturing events include True North’s 2019 Communitech and the annual AutoTech Symposium. Destination Canada Business Event’s Signature Event, Innovate Canada, will be held here in 2023. The exclusive event spotlights the ground-breaking work taking place across Canada’s leading innovation sectors, and will highlight Waterloo’s unique venues, attractions and experiences available for meetings.

Given that sustainability is of critical importance to Destination Canada’s Business Events team, the event will be carbon neutral. This can be done easily in Waterloo, where big events can have small footprints thanks to the region’s focus on sustainability. Through responsibly sourced dining offerings, low waste measures and green transportations options, planners can effortlessly achieve carbon-neutral events when hosting here.

Winnipeg: An advanced manufacturing powerhouse

Winnipeg manufactures the third-largest volume of aerospace products and parts exports in the country and enjoys a growing garment manufacturing sector, among other strengths in this sector.
Winnipeg manufactures the third-largest volume of aerospace products and parts exports in the country and enjoys a growing garment manufacturing sector, among other strengths in this sector. Photo Credit: Mike Peters

As the largest aerospace manufacturing hub in Western Canada, Winnipeg manufactures the third-largest volume of aerospace products and parts exports in the country. The capital city of the resource-rich province of Manitoba has the largest heavy vehicle and equipment manufacturing center in North America and is leading the way in developing technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Winnipeg also boasts a growing garment manufacturing sector that includes Canada Goose, and it’s a leader in Industry 4.0 technologies and training.

With its highly skilled workforce, competitive manufacturing tax credits, logistics infrastructure and support from industry leaders like the Prairie Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing, WestCaRD and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Manitoba, Winnipeg is a driving force in the sector. Planners looking to round out their programs will appreciate easy access to academic and industry experts from institutions including the Manitoba Technology Accelerator and North Forge Technology Exchange, Red River College and the Manitoba Institute For Materials housed at the University of Manitoba.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of Winnipeg's unique venues available for groups.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of Winnipeg's unique venues available for groups. Photo Credit: Mike Peters

Winnipeg’s renowned ecosystem includes success stories like NFI Group, Pollard Banknote and WinPak that have made major contributions to the sector’s innovations. For example, Precision ADM makes components and devices for clients in the global medical, aerospace, energy and industrial sectors using metal additive manufacturing as a core technology. Its research also led to the development of a reusable N95 mask, Precision Air. 

Conveniently situated in the center of the country, about 60 miles from the U.S. border, Winnipeg is ideally placed to welcome groups to its state-of-the-art RBC Convention Centre and warm cosmopolitan city, where more than 100 languages are spoken. Winnipeg proudly touts its cultural scene — which features the world’s first museum dedicated to human rights — and its unique experiences, such as connecting with nature at FortWhyte Alive — a 660-acre reclaimed urban green space.

Winnipeg’s advanced manufacturing sector is one of the nation’s best.
Dayna Spring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg

“Winnipeg’s advanced manufacturing sector is one of the nation’s best,” says Dayna Spring, president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg. “Our city is home to 12 unique research and development facilities and is the largest aerospace manufacturing hub in Western Canada. Innovative companies and a well-connected industry generate opportunities for strong programming and knowledge sharing for delegates.” 

Major advanced manufacturing events hosted here include the Canadian Construction Association’s 2019 Conference and the Crane Rental Association of Canada’s 2019 Annual Convention. In 2023, Winnipeg will welcome the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada’s Main Train Conference amongst other events in this sector. 

Ottawa: A leading innovator in aerospace, defense and engineering

Ottawa is a walkable, diverse city that is also a hub for innovators in a range of manufacturing fields.
Ottawa is a walkable, diverse city that is also a hub for innovators in a range of manufacturing fields. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Canada’s capital city offers the perfect trifecta for international business events in the advanced manufacturing space: top-ranked academic and research facilities, the country’s best R&D leaders and private sector thought leaders, and access to government and industry experts, all in a vibrant, centrally located destination. 

Ottawa boasts the highest concentration of tech workers in North America, and is a hub for innovators in the aerospace, defense and security sectors. With 190 companies and 10,000 employees, the city is headquarters to several of the worldʼs top aerospace and defense companies. Groups meeting in this G7 capital can benefit from access to national policymakers, international diplomats and leaders in many subsectors including defense sector hardware, software and system engineering, electronics manufacturing and systems integration.

Some of the companies pursuing ground-breaking work here include Babcock Canada, Lockheed Martin Canada, and Turnstone Biologics, along with ING Robotic Aviation — a pioneering robotic aircraft company that offers airborne mapping and monitoring for the public safety, mining and agriculture sectors. Ottawa is also home to Area X.O, a trailblazing facility where future mobility, autonomy and connected technologies are developed. 

Canada's capital city offers access to government and industry experts as well as a wide range of other resources ideal for business events.
Canada's capital city offers access to government and industry experts as well as a wide range of other resources ideal for business events. Photo Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Planners can tap into the city’s wealth of knowledge capital with thought leaders from institutions including the National Research Council of Canada’s Advanced Electronics and Photonics Research Centre, Aerospace Research Centre, the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre and Nanotechnology Research Centre, Defence Research and Development Canada, and Bayview Yards, a one-stop tech business acceleration shop.

With its airport located 15 minutes from the downtown core, Canada’s capital is also a walkable, diverse city that will wow delegates with its award-winning museums and dynamic culinary scene. Renowned cultural attractions include the National Arts Centre and the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While many delegates prefer to take in the city on foot, the city's light-rail transit system links hotels to the Shaw Centre, which was named the “World’s Best Convention Center” by the Association of Conference Centres (AIPC) in 2021.

“Ottawa has proven itself to be the ideal host community for our annual defense trade show — CANSEC — for over two decades…The ability to reach a concentrated and highly skilled advanced manufacturing audience, coupled with a professional service sector, means there is an ease of doing business in Ottawa that’s hard to find elsewhere,” says Paul Keogh, vice president of operations for the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI).

Ottawa has hosted recent advanced manufacturing events such as CANSEC 2022 and the Conference of Defence Associations Institute’s Annual Conference. 

Elevate your next advanced manufacturing event in Canada

Photo Credit: Destination Canada

Home to state-of-the-art innovators shaping the industry’s future, Canada is a strong competitor on the world stage, as well as an innovation leader. The country’s vibrant cities and expertise make Canada the ideal destination for business events.

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The Waterloo Region, Winnipeg and Ottawa represent just three of Canada’s seven advanced manufacturing centers of excellence, each with their own areas of specialization, knowledge capital and appeal for groups. Organizations meeting in Canada are able to leverage the country's brains and beauty, and meet with purpose. 

For impartial insights, inspiration and introductions, planners can contact Destination Canada Business Events team member Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director of Business Development, Economic Sectors, Destination Canada Business Events at: Devisscher.virginie@destinationcanada.com

Content sponsored by Destination Canada Business Events