Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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W WeSTDeF 2013 encoUraGinG Western canadian innoVation t he old phrase "come hell or high water" took on a whole new meaning for the organizers of WestDef 2013. The annual western Canada defence conference appeared to be in jeopardy when flood waters ravaged the downtown core of Calgary just weeks before the event was scheduled to take place in July. But after over 2,000 Canadian Armed Forces regular and reserve members came to the aid of civilian authorities, in some cases literally lifting Albertans from their flooded homes, it was only fitting that the show go on. Though he was not in attendance, Tom Jenkins loomed large over much of the conference. Government and industry representatives alike pick up on the themes of the Open Text CEO's 2013 report on leveraging defence procurement through key industrial capabilities. Rona Ambrose, at the time the Minister of Public Works & Government Services, announced the expansion of the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program into the Build in Canada Innovation Program – a Jenkins recommendation – that will see government departments become first-time buyers and evaluators of pre-commercial innovations. Lynne Yelich, former Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, said the government was looking at how to leverage its industrial benefits policy to help the western aerospace and marine sectors. "Together we are promoting a strong west because a stronger west is a stronger Canada," she said as she announced a $55,000 investment to support the WestDef symposium. And Kerry-Lynne Findlay, then the Associate Minister of National Defence, stressed the government's commitment to "help you build on your successes and support you as you build a lasting defence infrastructure in this country." Vice Admiral Mark Norman, just 19 days into the job as commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, made the connection between the RCN's mission and motto, "Ready, Aye, Ready," and the defence industry. The motto, he explained, "describes one of most enduring characteristics of sea power," to sustain a ship at high readiness, something that would not be possible without a strategic partner in industry to "deliver winning technologies and systems." That message was reinforced by Pete Palmer of General Dynamic's Edge Innovation Network, which is positioning itself as the EHarmony of the defence sector, a "technology dating service" to connect larger companies and government customers with innovators. "You've got to have a team of big and small companies to get a program going," he said. "To be honest, and I am in GD, small companies are really where the innovation occurs." Companies from General Electric to Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter walked through some of their programs and experiences with the procurement process, and Scott Dewis of Victoria's Race Rocks provided small companies with some advice on breaking into the defence sector. Lesson number 2: when in Ottawa, wear a suit. To an audience dressed in denim and cowboys hats, it drew plenty of laughs. 38 AUGUsT/sePTeMBer 2013

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