18 September 2019

Sherbrooke Innopole celebrates 10 years of accomplishments

PRESS RELEASE – Sherbrooke Innopole, Sherbrooke’s economic development arm which provides services to the industrial and tertiary sectors, presented a positive assessment of their chosen strategy and the actions taken over the last 10 years, since its creation in 2009, in front of several political and economic figures on September 18, 2019.

At the press conference, the president of Sherbrooke Innopole’s board of directors, Alexandre Nault, and executive director, Josée Fortin, reiterated the pertinence and effectiveness of the economic development strategy, that specifically targets five key sectors, which was backed up by the figures. From 2010 to 2018, the five key sectors – Industrial and Advanced Manufacturing, Clean Technologies, Information Technologies, Life Sciences and Micro-nanotechnologies – saw the following payoffs:

  • a net gain of 169 businesses;
  • a net creation of 6801 jobs;
  • investments totalling more than $1.4B in machinery, equipment, land, buildings and R&D.

It should also be noted that between 2010 and 2018, the overall number of jobs and businesses in the five key sectors has always been on the increase.

“This data allows us to affirm that Sherbrooke’s economy has undoubtedly undergone the innovative shift that was hoped for in the wake the 2007 economic summit, when Sherbrooke sought to shift to a value-added economy, which built upon its research and teaching institutions as drivers of innovation and on a heightened spirit of cooperation”, highlighted Alexandre Nault.

The vision for Sherbrooke’s economic development for 2019-2025 reinforces the concept and orientations that have guided Sherbrooke Innopole since 2009, namely entrepreneurship and innovation. Thank you, Sherbrooke Innopole, for contributing to the economic growth and outreach of our city”, said Sherbrooke mayor, Steve Lussier.

To Josée Fortin, “it is clear that the economic success that Sherbrooke is experiencing today is based on five interrelated building blocks: the audacity and resilience of Sherbrooke entrepreneurs, the strategy of targeting five key sectors for development, a proven capacity for innovation, a culture of collaboration among all the stakeholders in the milieu, and the hard work of each and every partner, including Sherbrooke Innopole”.

Mr. Nault and Ms. Fortin spotlighted a few of Sherbrooke Innopole’s major accomplishments, stressing the innovative and proactive nature of many of these initiatives and partnerships:

  • Development of a complete financing offer, from start-up to growth – a Québec first for a para-municipal organization;
  • Significant contribution to Sherbrooke’s entrepreneurial drive through, among other things, two major promotional campaigns promoting entrepreneurship and its involvement in the creation of the technological business creation accelerator (Accélérateur de créations d’entreprises technologiques) ACET-Banque Nationale and more recently the creation of the first line resource: Hub entrepreneur;
  • Creation/involvement in major infrastructure projects, such as the Espace-inc incubator-accelerator, multitenant scientific space, Espace LABz, and the shared coworking space Espace TI;
  • Development of industrial parks/zones, notably the expansion of the regional industrial park where 21 lots have been bought since 2016;
  • Development of or collaboration with numerous projects, training sessions and workshops designed to reduce impact of the scarcity of manpower, on the local, regional and international level, including three editions of an industry open house (Portes ouvertes sur l’industrie), the student retention project J’adopte l’Estrie, and others;
  • Creation of subsidy programmes which can be used to directly support businesses, such as the marketing support programme VITE and the programme supporting development outside Québec: Sherbrooke International;
  • Organization of major eventsfor the business community and for local and foreign researchers, including two editions of the Sherbrooke International Life Sciences Summit;
  • Tangible actions taken towards sustainable development, such as a Carbon Care Certification and launching of the circular economy project Synergie Estrie in collaboration with the MRC des Sources;
  • Communications shift towards Web 2.0 starting in 2010, to increase the outreach and notoriety of Sherbrooke and local businesses.

In parallel with these promising projects, the professionals at Sherbrooke Innopole have, on average, had 650 dealings each year with businesses in the five key sectors, “a masterful contribution towards making our city’s economy more dynamic”, commented the organization’s executive director, Josée Fortin.

“Entrepreneurs have always been one of the core concerns for Sherbrooke Innopole and we are striving to continually make our services more relevant and effective, and this has been true, just as much during the first executive director’s mandate as my own”, added Ms. Fortin, while mentioning that entrepreneurship, innovation and collaboration are all elements than span the three strategic plans that have been implemented since the organization’s creation.

In terms of financing, Sherbrooke Innopole has invested more than $11M in Sherbrooke businesses through its various funds – including $3.3M in venture capital –, which generated overall investments of more than $365M over the last nine years.

“Of course, the results and achievements that we are sharing with you today are no guarantee for the future, conceded Josée Fortin. Our businesses are already facing significant challenges that must be overcome to ensure their growth: recruiting and retention of personnel, industry 4.0, the spectre of a looming recession, etc. At the same time, business opportunities in the export market are on the increase thanks to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Our team of professionals – who currently number 22 – will continue to support our entrepreneurs to overcome difficulties and seize on opportunities, in collaboration with our local, regional, national and international partners.

“10 years, it’s something to celebrate!”

Sherbrooke Innopole took this opportunity during its ten-year report to announce a year of “effective” festivities, according to Josée Fortin. “10 years of endeavors and achievements, that’s something worth celebrating, and we can do that first and foremost by putting in the spotlight the entrepreneurs that we want to celebrate. They are the ones who create the businesses and jobs that forge Sherbrooke’s economic vitality; they deserve to be better known and applauded”, stressed Ms. Fortin.

On the programme after the first ten years of Sherbrooke Innopole, we have, among others, initiatives designed to enhance the value of Sherbrooke businesses, and other undertakings that will allow everyone to learn about the daily work of the team and understand each member’s role.

About Sherbrooke Innopole

Sherbrooke Innopole is Sherbrooke’s economic development arm whose mission is to accelerate the development of businesses in five key sectors – Industrial and Advanced Manufacturing, Clean Technologies, Information Technologies, Life Sciences and Micro-nanotechnologies – and to work to make Sherbrooke an attractive and innovative business environment.

Source: Sherbrooke Innopole

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Sherbrooke Innopole’s mandate ends on March 31, 2024. We invite you to contact Entreprendre Sherbrooke or the Service du développement économique of the Ville de Sherbrooke for further services.
Thank you to all Sherbrooke industrial and technological businesses, as well as to all our partners for the trust granted since 2009!