By: Christian Buhagiar, President & CEO, SCMA


It’s never been seen as the ‘cool kid’ but artificial intelligence (AI) applied to supply chain management (SCM) is poised to take centre stage in Canada’s innovation  ecosystem because of its ground-breaking impact on sustainable and inclusive economic growth.   

The Federal government plans to invest $950-million to kick-start innovation Superclusters and supercharge their regional innovation ecosystems. This initiative has generated a very strong response from the private sector which underscores the transformative impact of AI on the backbone of the Canadian economy.

I imagine few Canadians outside of the supply chain community gave it a second thought. 

Here’s why they should.

Canada is running in a global innovation race where we compete for talent, technology and companies. SCM is a horizontal play and that means it cuts across every vertical sector - healthcare, agriculture, IT/Telecommunications, manufacturing, resources and services.  Every company from the smallest start-up to global 500s plus all levels of government rely on SCM to integrate efficiencies, safety, sustainability, and customer experience.  

When combined, SCM and AI become a powerful accelerant to the types of innovation that are needed to fuel economic growth, and give Canada a distinct competitive advantage including good, well-paying jobs.  As an example, AI will program and drive an automated (driverless) truck guided by a GPS system that navigates the most fuel and time efficient route to deliver or pick-up raw materials and finished products.  Let’s imagine this automated truck is delivering a shipment of robotic components that were made by 3D printing.  The robotic components will be used to manufacture the wireless sensors that are used in the secure Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT supports an agribusiness to help it monitor the precise moisture levels in the soil and produce a nutrient-dense crop for a global market.  Intelligent SC means embedding advanced digital technologies enabled by functional AI into companies’ operations.

That’s why the proposed “AI powered supply chains Supercluster” is worth more than a second thought:

  • This industry led consortium, is supported by more than 60 industry leaders as well as the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA) and world class research institutions such as the Institute for Data Valorization IVADO and the University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering.  
  • It has already generated $420-million worth of private sector new investment potential.
  • It will bolster Canada’s leadership in AI & data science, foster industrial collaboration, and define a new global Supply Chain platform.
  • This initiative will transform the future of Canada.

Now is the time: Canada has to leverage its leading position in data science & AI to strengthen its economy. Canada needs the supply chain of the future, powered by AI.