World-class companies have chosen Québec City as a base for R&D and a springboard to global markets
Contributed by Quebec International
Recent foreign direct investments announced for Québec City show that the region is successfully holding its own in the face of international competition. Why? Québec City has many major assets playing in its favour with decision makers. The region boasts a diversified, knowledge-oriented economy, qualified workforce and world-class research infrastructures, along with economic and political stakeholders committed to the region’s development. Québec City also enjoys a vibrant collaborative culture that facilitates transfer technology from research institutions to industry.
This year alone, Medicago (Japan; vaccine production facility and R&D centre), Thales (France; joint research unit in urban science), OVH (France; R&D centre in digital services), Larian Studios (Belgium; video game studio), and Microsoft (United States; cloud services data centre) have already announced over $300 million in investments in Quebec’s capital city.
Leading local companies are getting in on the act as well, with initiatives that are making the region highly competitive. Examples include Chocolats Favoris (artisan chocolate and related products) and Opsens (fibre optic solutions for critical applications), both recently announcing Québec City expansion plans with an eye to taking their businesses global.
The region also turned in a strong performance in the “American Cities of the Future 2015–2016” ranking from British magazine fDi, a Financial Times Group publication. Québec City placed third for Business Friendliness and its strategy for attracting foreign investment.
Medicago’s recent announcement of a $245 million vaccine production facility and R&D centre further strengthens Québec City’s international position as a centre of excellence in infectiology, vaccines, and diagnostics. For Medicago, a world leader in the development and production of plant-based vaccines, a number of elements tipped the balance in Quebec City’s favour. As Québec International president and CEO Carl Viel notes, “The decision to invest was based on several factors: Medicago’s solid roots in the city where it was founded, the company’s international credibility and ability to rapidly produce large quantities of vaccine, the presence of Andy Sheldon at the head of the firm, full cooperation from the city and Mayor Régis Labeaume, assistance from Québec and Ottawa, the availability of skilled workers, and ready access to land.” QI met with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma (who owns Medicago) during the CCCA Asian mission in February 2014 in Japan.
French technology giant Thales, in collaboration with the City of Québec, Université Laval, Institut national de recherche scientifique and the Québec Metro High Tech Park, wants to make Québec City a life-size urban laboratory—a project estimated at $19.2 million. “Owing to its integration in the industrial community, this research facility targeting innovation, unique both in Québec and in Canada due to its shared governance and infrastructure and its first-class technical capacity, will enable Thales to create more highly-skilled jobs, provide training support for talented personnel and showcase an innovation hub focused on urban science, positioning the Province of Québec as a leader in the development of citizen-centric urban technologies,” said Siegfried Usal, VP Strategy and Communications, Thales Canada Inc. at the announcement of the project in Québec City on April 28, 2015.
On April 16, 2015, OVH, Europe’s leading hosting provider—and third-largest worldwide—announced plans to build an R&D centre dedicated to cloud server and customer applications and connected objects. OVH wants to promote networking within Québec City’s start-up community with a view to accelerating projects in co-development, sparking ideas, and developing new services to drive the growth of its global customer base. The centre will employ 50 people under the leadership of Pierre Leroux and will support OVH’s push into North American markets. Leroux is quick to compare Quebec City to Silicon Valley for its talent pool and innovation capacity.
Larian Studios, the Belgian developer of hits like Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Dragon Commander, announced plans in March to open a studio in Québec City. With support from Québec International (QI), the developer quickly established links with strategic business partners in the region. Larian Studios is the first company to benefit from the soft landing program offered by LE CAMP, the QI-managed technology incubator/accelerator. The program helped pave the way for the soft landing of the Belgian company by providing a physical space for it to finalize arrangements. “We were impressed by the openness and energy of regional stakeholders and by Québec City’s advantages in terms of qualified workers, competitive operating costs, infrastructure, and quality of life,” said Larian’s president and founder Swen Vincke, who drew a number of parallels with the studio’s home city of Ghent, Belgium. QI met with Larian during the CCCA European mission in November 2014.
Global software leader Microsoft has announced it will deliver commercial cloud services from Québec City and Toronto. The decision was made public by Microsoft COO Kevin Turner in early June. The American multinational will serve its Canadian customers from within Canada, providing them with the highest standards of international security. The president and CEO of Québec International spoke with Microsoft Canada president Janet Kennedy the day after the plans were announced for Québec City, which has plenty to offer to companies providing data hosting services.
Québec International: an integrated approach
Québec International (QI) keeps close track of investment initiatives like these and works incessantly to help create the conditions conducive for their success. The QI Foreign Investment prospecting team works closely with Canadian and Québec government representatives abroad to target potential investors. The team also benefits from the support of QI colleagues with specialized expertise in the growth sectors identified for development by the region: life sciences, optics/photonics, green and intelligent buildings, digital arts and interactive entertainment, and health foods. QI also enjoys government backing for its work to attract new investments and support business expansion projects.
For more information about Québec International, visit www.quebecinternational.ca