OFFICIALS from Bombardier Aerospace, the third-largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, were in Winnipeg this week looking for partners.
Bombardier executives met with officials from Bristol Aerospace, a division of Magellan Aerospace, the Composites Innovation Centre and several smaller Winnipeg firms.
"There is the Big Three in Winnipeg (Boeing, Bristol and StandardAero), then there are many smaller ones. We may collaborate with any of the above," said Fassi Kafyeke, Bombardier's director of strategic technologies.
Ostensibly, the framework of the trip was the newly announced federal government technology demonstration program.
Officially launched last month by Industry Canada, the program will fund large-scale technology demonstration projects that will leverage investment on a sufficient scale to move the innovation along.
The projects must be led by an original equipment manufacturer and must include at least one small or medium-size supplier and an academic institution or affiliated research institute.
Ottawa has budgeted $54 million a year for the program, designed to support 50 per cent of the cost of large-scale developments costing between $20 million and $50 million each.
Ken Webb, executive director of the Manitoba Aerospace Association, said the program is focused on technology that will make the biggest difference to the industry and the biggest economic impact on Canada.
"It's to help Canada become a world leader or world player in whatever those technologies are," Webb said.
Kafyeke acknowledged that in Manitoba, the Composites Innovation Centre was a good place to start.
"Many of the players here are investing in composites," he said. "That is an area of interest."
Gene Manchur, the aero-sector manager at the Composites Innovation Centre said: "We see there is a huge opportunity and definitely we want to support our client base as they move forward and connect up with OEM, be it Bombardier, Boeing or Bell (Helicopter).
Bristol has been making the tail cone for one model of the Dash-8 since the mid-'90s. Don Boitson, vice-president and general manager of Bristol, said the company is always interested in exploring growth opportunities with its large aerospace customers.