A Country of Superlatives

Canada can easily be called a country of superlatives. It’s where the architects of the global tech revolution live, work and research, and where the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials. It’s where you’ll find the highest concentration of Artificial Intelligence start-ups on the globe and it is home to the continent’s third-largest life science research hub—as well as the world’s largest centre of excellence for AI. These research and innovation centres aren’t just churning out data—they’re building a booming global business, and giving Canada a leading role in the process.

As Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, executive director of Global Business Events Canada puts it: “When you convene in Canada for meetings and conventions, you’ll be connected with the innovators who are shaping the future, the thought leaders who are leading the way, and the business and research architects who elevate Canada’s position on the world stage across a spectrum of industries.”

Out of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada offers the most highly educated workforce, with over 460 private and public post-secondary institutions that are grooming the “workforce of the future.” And thanks to successful sectors like Life Sciences, Technology, Agribusiness, Aerospace, CleanTech, Natural Resources and Advanced Manufacturing, the country is coming out on top as a leading competitor, making it “an alluring destination for global meetings and business events,”according to Virginie De Visscher, director of Business Development Economic Sectors, Business Events Canada. By connecting with industry and academia, planners gain important access to resources that can shape their conference agenda, help grow their membership and elevate the profile of their event on the world stage.”

Successful Sectors 

At the moment, Canada ranks fourth on the Global Cleantech Innovation Index for its work reducing carbon and cutting back on energy consumption. Écotech Québec is one organization that’s making big strides by bringing together some of the key clean tech decision makers. The Agricultural Clean Technology program is also putting $25 million toward clean technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting sustainable and clean growth.

The country’s progressive green visions aren’t going unnoticed, either. Last year, two Vancouver-based companies—Awesense and MineSense Technologies—received awards at the 2018 Cleantech Forum San Francisco, drawing major attention to the world’s third greenest city. In Calgary, the hub of Canada’s energy industry, 150 companies are employing 4,500 people in oil and clean gas technology, and the city sports a number of world-class research centres like the Clean Resource Innovation Network.

Ontario-based not-for-profit Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, meanwhile, is one of the organizations leading Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster initiative, a sector expected to have a $13.5 billion impact on the Canadian economy over the next 10 years. Over 130 participants in the supercluster, including the University of Waterloo and software developer Autodesk, are driving forward advanced manufacturing in technology like 3D printing, machine learning and cybersecurity.

Toronto in particular acts as an advanced manufacturing leader, where 250-plus companies and industry organizations collaborate on advanced manufacturing research with the University of Toronto (home to both the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics and Toronto Institute of Advanced Manufacturing). The city of London also serves as a headquarters for a number of impressive research facilities, including the 130-acre Advanced Manufacturing Park, which houses the Wind Engineering, Energy and Environmental Research Institute (WindEEE RI), the world’s only facility that can reproduce a tornado vortex. It’s also the base of the Additive Design in Surgical Solutions Centre, which has developed innovations like 3D-printed surgical guides and jaw implants. In addition, auto parts giant Brose Canada chose London as the locale for its only Canadian facility, where two plants have stamped more than 180 million seat frames and 22.5 million seat adjusters since 2005.

In terms of aerospace, Aéro Montréal is Canada’s largest cluster, and the city helps generate 52 percent of the country’s aerospace industry sales, in addition to bringing conferences like the upcoming AHS International’s 76thAnnual Forum American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in May 2020. It’s no surprise the city is bringing conferences of this scale, considering Greater Montréal is one of the world’s three major aerospace centres (sitting alongside Seattle and Toulouse) and Québec ranks fifth worldwide in the aerospace sector.

In Ottawa—Canada’s national capital and hub for the aerospace, defence and security sector—you’ll find some of the country’s best R&D capabilities and tech innovators, from Lockheed Martin to Boeing Canada. Ottawa is also the base for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and Department of National Defence and brings large-scale conferences in the sector like the Canadian Aerospace Summit, which drew 1,200 to the 2018 edition.

Natural Beauty

The largest country in the Western Hemisphere is among the world’s largest energy producers, and in 2017 alone, Canada exported $251 billion worth of natural resources. The country boasts one of the most advanced programs for enforcing sustainable fisheries practices, in addition to the third-largest crude oil reserve. Pair these features with the fact that Canada claims the world’s longest coastline—and fourth-largest ocean territory—and you’ll see why the country is leading the way as an innovator across ocean sectors.

St. John’s, Newfoundland, is promoting Canada’s ocean economy by serving as a base for startups like Seaformatics Systems Inc., which developed the WaterLily low-speed turbine that uses water or wind to charge USB devices. And, next year, 2,000 attendees will descend on the city during the World Aquaculture Society (WAS) North America 2020 conference, the first collaboration between WAS and the Aquaculture Association of Canada (AAC) in some time. 

Food for Thought

The Greater Toronto Area ranks second-largest food industry hub in North America behind Los Angeles. And as the fifth-largest global exporter of agri-food products (generating 5.7 percent of the world’s exports), Canada is known particularly for commodities like poultry in Newfoundland and Labrador; hogs in Manitoba and Quebec; grains and oilseeds in the Prairies; and eggs in the Northwest Territories. Several companies in Québec City (a hub for food and nutrition information) are also part of the Québec Health Food Cluster, which helps market healthier, value-added products.

Canada as a whole features 19 agricultural clusters and 15 food and beverage clusters, with stand-out superclusters like the Protein Industries Canada (PIC), 145 stakeholders across the western part of the country that focus on crop breeding, production and export development. Saskatchewan is the country’s leading agricultural exporter and every variety of pulse crop grown in the province was developed at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon—a world leader in pulse crops. Regina, the province’s capital, is one of the supercluster’s active members and where corporations like DOT Technology designed breakthroughs like autonomous vehicles to replace human-operated tractors. Last October, the city attracted 120,000 attendees for the Canadian Western Agribition, the country’s largest livestock show. Another success story worth pointing out: the ISM Canada Centre of Excellence at the University of Regina, which features the world’s first data hub for agriculture, where the focus is heavily on food traceability solutions.

As Murad Al-Katib, president & CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients and 2017 EY World Entrepreneur of the Year, puts it: “The opportunity for Canada is that we’re going to be the first stop on the protein highway. The whole game now is about feeding the world, and, as we move toward 10 billion people by 2050, Regina will be the place to be to ensure we actually seize that opportunity and feed the world.”

More info on Canada as a conference destination: Emma@axistravelmarketing.com/ www.businesseventscanada.ca – This article, whose extended version is available in the September issue of Boardroom, was written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset.  The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.

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