Innovation was the word on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s lips Thursday as he visited three Waterloo Region organizations that know the concept very well.

His day started in the morning, with a stop at the University of Waterloo.

At the school, he toured through a science lab, getting a firsthand look at some of its inventions and research.

“This is about getting the word out there, and making sure that the university and this area is known as the innovation hub,” said Harry Gandhi, who co-founded Medella Health, a company developing contact lenses that can measure the blood glucose levels of diabetics wearing the lenses.

Speaking to a large crowd at Needles Hall, the prime minister announced that the federal government plans to invest up to $12 million on research into clean water technologies.

The money is going to the Southern Ontario Water Consortium – a group of 10 universities working to help Ontario companies push new, clean water technologies into the marketplace.

“Southern Ontario companies will have the opportunity to develop and accelerate the commercialization of new technologies in all areas of water and wastewater treatment and monitoring,” Trudeau said.

“This will make them stronger global competitors, and grow local and regional economies in the process.”

University of Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur told the assembled crowd that “years of hard scientific work and scholarship” led up to Thursday’s announcement.

“This is a model partnership for science and innovation that will serve the needs of our society … but also the economic opportunities for our province and country,” he said.

Leaving Needles Hall, the prime minister found the Waterloo campus lined with huge groups of students look to take photos of or with him.

Trudeau’s next stop was the headquarters of BlackBerry, where he received a private tour.

After that, he headed to Kitchener to take part in the opening of Google Canada’s new office on Breithaupt Street.

Speaking to the media at Google, Trudeau talked up Waterloo Region as an "extraordinary" innovation hub.

“What’s happening here really, really matters," he said.