Seven countries, 130 companies are here to get matchedTuesday, October 29, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
After a great deal of planning, delegates from seven countries gathered for the launch of Naturallia 2013, described as a “matchmaking” event for businesses, Monday evening at Comfort Suites.
Minister of State for Science and Technology Greg Rickford (after a FedNor announcement at China Steel earlier Monday), Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes and Mayor Debbie Amaroso were among VIPs on hand to welcome business figures from Canada, the U.S., Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Germany and Finland.
Business figures from each participating country (some of them pictured here with Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso) will meet with each other with a view to forming partnerships in four major areas: advanced manufacturing, value-added forest products, mining supply and services, and smart energy development, supply and services.
Naturallia 2013, which continues Tuesday and Wednesday, was organized by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) and the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), with funding from the City and senior levels of government.
Naturallia’s format is unique in that each participating, registered company has already been “matched up” with several other companies, with a chance to network and form business partnerships during a series of half-hour meetings, hence the term “matchmaking” or ”speed-dating for businesses.”
Organizers say the format is better than a “blind date and ‘hope for the best’ scenario.”
The companies are pre-matched for the conference, with the chance to sit down and quickly see what each has to offer.
EDC CEO Tom Dodds estimated 175 to 200 delegates, representing 130 businesses and organizations, are in attendance for Naturallia 2013.
It is hoped by local organizers that local businesses in attendance will attract foreign investment to Sault Ste. Marie.
A company visiting from South America could, for example, find the right expertise for the right price from one of several Sault Ste. Marie firms that at Naturallia.
Dodds said: “Northern Ontarians, compared to people in other parts of the world, are not as aggressive in trade as we would like.”
“Certainly we export a lot of commodities like steel and forest products, but we don’t do a lot of value-added business, so this is a great way for our people to get into the game.”
“They can make contacts and establish an ongoing relationship after the conference is over,” Dodds said.
As Minister of State for Science and Technology Greg Rickford pointed out in his speech, the presence of business people from countries like Germany and Finland at Naturallia 2013 is very timely, in view of the recently announced Canada-E.U. Free Trade deal.
Though that deal is yet to be ratified by Canada and the European Union’s member states, Dodds agreed.
“I think what they (the Germans) see is the research in the forestry products industry.”
“They are a country that has tremendous expertise in technology…they would be quite keen on doing business with Northern Ontario companies because they’ve improved the efficiency of forest products machinery and they would be interested in partnerships with companies here.”
Among several local companies registered to attend Naturallia 2013 are the SSMIC, Anthony Eacom, N-Sci Technologies, SIS Manufacturing, and Soo Foundry and Machine Ltd.
Naturallia 2013 will also include speeches from several keynote speakers, both at Comfort Suites and Millworks (the former St. Marys Paper site), before Wednesday’s closing ceremonies at Sault College at 6 p.m.