Minister-led Roundtable: Innovative Transportation - Table Setter


May 25, 2016 (9:30 AM to 11:30AM) | Saint-Hubert, Québec

Discussion Purpose

To hear perspectives on the longer-term agenda for transportation in Canada that supports the Government’s objectives for economic growth, a cleaner economy, and a country that remains well-positioned to compete globally.

Roundtable Objective

Gain insight into the opportunities and challenges associated with the rise in disruptive technologies in the transportation sector.

Identify regulatory, policy and other actions that would support the promotion of innovation in Canada’s transportation sector and maximize the benefits of new and emerging technologies.

Improve/validate understanding of how to design federal approaches to innovation, including mechanisms that better leverage the potential of disruptive technologies within the transportation sector.

Explore how best to support the business-academic-government partnerships in Canada that are required to deepen the collective understanding of innovation in the transportation sector and position Canada as a global leader where appropriate.


  • Transportation is being revolutionized by emerging and disruptive technologies that have broad economic, social and environmental implications, with the potential to improve transportation system safety and security, enhance efficiency and mobility, and reduce environmental footprints and congestion.
  • The move to a sharing economy focused on user-centered mobility and connectivity is now dominating the transportation landscape, including a growing emphasis on digitization, data and analytics, a shift away from fossil fuels to alternative energy options, and an overall movement towards the creation of “smart” cities. New players are also entering the transportation marketplace with new business models and mobility solutions.
  • The transportation innovation landscape is characterized by Leaders (U.S., Germany, Japan), Fast Followers (UK, Australia, Sweden), and Takers (with Canada generally characterized as a taker/user, and demonstrated capacity to be a fast follower in strategic/niche areas).
  • Canada’s trade partners and competitors are advancing significant transportation technology initiatives, placing emphasis on public-private cooperation, large-scale demonstration projects, and agile regulatory regimes to foster and accelerate the testing and adoption of these technologies.
  • The speed and scope at which new technologies are being introduced to the sector is testing the status quo; the early identification of innovative transportation issues and impacts of disruptive technologies will be essential if Canada is to proactively exploit opportunities, address challenges, and leverage the full potential of transportation to achieve broad economic and social benefits.

Defining Objectives for the Future

Increasing the rate and scope of technology adoption within Canada’s transportation system is critical to leveraging the full potential of new and emerging technologies in supporting economic, safety, environmental and social objectives.

While industry is recognized as leading innovation and technology adoption in the transportation sector, government will need to ensure regulatory frameworks are flexible, adaptable and aligned in order to promote technology adoption and not hinder innovation in the sector.

Supporting effective business-academic-government partnerships, as well as international partnerships, will be particularly important for Canada’s transportation sector in order to remain competitive on a global scale, to improve system performance and to minimize environmental impacts.

Key Index Question

How can we better harness state of the art transformative technologies to enhance innovation, reduce environmental impacts, and increase the competitiveness, safety and security of Canada’s transportation system?

Roundtable Discussion Questions

  1. What are the most important innovation opportunities in the transportation system? What goals should be pursued and, given limited resources, how should we prioritize actions?
  2. What are the key economic opportunities for innovation to increase the competitiveness of Canada’s transportation system, and for critical industrial sectors (e.g., automotive, information and communications technology, clean technology, green infrastructure)? What are the barriers to the adoption of these and other technologies in the transportation sector?
  3. What is the government’s and industry’s role in promoting innovation? What policies and other mechanisms are needed to support the emergence of innovative transportation technologies? Do we have the right mechanisms for collaboration?
  4. How can we ensure that Canada’s transportation sector does not risk falling behind in the adoption of new technology, relative to our major trade partners and competitors?