PRESS RELEASE – Sherbrooke Innopole and Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole ratified the renewal of their economic collaboration agreement during the two-day visit of Montpellier representatives to Sherbrooke.
This agreement, whose first version was signed in 2009, officializes the partnership between the two organizations, seeking to promote the growth of innovative businesses in their respective geographical areas and to be mutually supportive in terms of economic development. It was ratified by Pierre Tremblay, President of Sherbrooke Innopole’s Board of Directors, and Chantal Marion, Vice-President, Economic Development, representing Philippe Saurel, President of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole and Mayor, City of Montpellier.
Pierre Tremblay, Sherbrooke Innopole, and Chantal Marion, Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole
The Montpellier Agglomération, located in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, has two universities and an industrial framework based on key sectors and innovation, a profile very similar to that of Sherbrooke. According to Josée Fortin, Director General of Sherbrooke Innopole, it is in the best interest of economic development organizations with similarities in terms of vision and economic structure and which group together businesses with the capacity of internationalizing to join forces to support both industrial development and the development of the knowledge economy.
“Alliances like the one we have just renewed with Montpellier Métropole enable our businesses to develop more quickly in the very competitive world in which they are evolving – by providing them with easier access to overseas markets, contacts, and resources advantageous to their development,” explained Ms. Fortin. The latter took advantage of her guests’ presence in Sherbrooke to take them on a tour of the Sherbrooke Science Park, the site of the future multi-tenant building for young companies in the Life Sciences, as well as the Espace-inc incubator, where they met with young entrepreneurs.
Chantal Marion, currently on a North American tour to have discussions with her international partners, highlighted the importance of this type of agreement. “It is vital that economic development stakeholders like Sherbrooke Innopole and Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole perpetuate our relationships, in order to create partnerships and to provide companies from our two countries wanting to internationalize with solid and sustainable bases,” she noted. “Normally it takes several years of sustaining relationships before the concrete benefits of this type of agreement are observed. What is interesting in the case of Sherbrooke is that both of our organizations have been actively involved from the beginning and have already derived numerous benefits from our agreement.”
Over the past six years, the economic collaboration agreement between Sherbrooke Innopole and Montpellier Métropole has enabled four delegations of Montpellier businesses and institutions to come to Sherbrooke to visit research centres, to hold networking meetings with Sherbrooke companies and researchers, or to take part in the International Life Sciences Summit. In addition, Sherbrooke businesses have been able to test the European market and to lay the foundations for their development in France, thanks to support and assistance from the Montpellier team.
“Besides the purely economic spinoffs, the agreement has also been conducive to the exchange of information, to technological and scientific collaborative efforts, as well as to the sharing of specific practices by both parties,” noted Pierre Tremblay.
“For example, Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole is recognized worldwide for the incubation of innovative businesses. The sharing of its expertise has been invaluable to the Sherbrooke Innopole team in setting up the Espace-inc incubator.” Representatives from Montpellier also participated as keynote speakers in the 2014 information and communications technology event, Rendez-vous des technologies de l’information et des communications, organized by Sherbrooke Innopole, to share the Montpellier’s smart city approach and developments.
The Montpellier delegation took advantage of being in Sherbrooke to discuss the twinning agreement between the two cities with Mayor Bernard Sévigny. “There have been major political and administrative alterations in Montpellier over the past 18 months, including a change of jurisdiction regarding international relations. This unfortunately caused the regrettable misunderstandings we experienced last year,” stated Mr. Sévigny after the meeting, which he described as friendly and constructive. “We have turned the page on this chapter and are looking forward to pursuing not only our twinning but also the projects that it may generate in the coming months, which will be advantageous to both of our cities,” concluded the mayor.