24 April 2019
Sherbrooke Innopole’s 2018 Annual Report – Sherbrooke’s Industrial Sector Continues to Grow
PRESS RELEASE – Sherbrooke’s industrial and high-value-added services sector once again proved it’s on the upswing – even gaining momentum – last year, according to Sherbrooke Innopole’s 2018 annual report, released today. Specifically, the economic development agency emphasized the determination and ingenuity of companies across the five key sectors in recruitment and growth strategies, resulting in the creation of a “staggering” 1128 jobs and record investments of over $223M.
In 2018, Sherbrooke Innopole also undertook a number of major projects, including the rolling out of a new strategic plan, multiple initiatives related to workforce attraction and retention, as well as several collaborative projects in Sherbrooke and the greater Estrie region.
“The unique collaborative climate that spread across the region was a defining highlight of 2018, and bodes well for the future,” stated Sherbrooke Innopole President, Alexander Nault. “For example, the severe workforce shortage has not divided us, on the contrary, it has united and motivated us to seek innovative solutions.”
Sherbrooke Innopole’s results
Sherbrooke Innopole submitted an updated annual report, in line with its 2018-2020 strategic plan. The new three‑year plan resulting from extensive consultation with Sherbrooke industrial companies is set out in five broad orientations: Workforce, Expertise, Funding, Liaison, and Business Services.
“As a result of this comprehensive exercise, our actions are more than ever in tune with the needs of the community,” emphasized Josée Fortin, Director General of Sherbrooke Innopole. “This process also guided us in integrating a client relationship management software, commonly known as CRM, and is also reflected in our revamped adaptive website, which features a refined service offer that is more clearly explained and presented to entrepreneurs hoping to start up, prosper, and invest in Sherbrooke.”
Specifically in 2018, Sherbrooke Innopole’s team of professionals initiated or collaborated on 186 growth-generating projects to develop an environment conducive to growth for Sherbrooke companies, 163 of which have been completed over the year.
As a part of the Workforce component, four new initiatives to provide better tools and facilitate staff recruitment for companies must be highlighted: An Espace PME (SME space) reserved for Sherbrooke industries during the Université de Sherbrooke’s Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair, a cohort of training in workforce attraction and retention, a new representation service for companies interested in recruiting from abroad, and the first Salon virtuel de recrutement Ti, in collaboration with the Maison régionale de l’industrie and with financial contribution from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion du Québec.
As a pillar of the sector-based economic development strategy, the Expertise orientation refers to the sectoral knowledge related to the five key sectors as well as the partnerships leveraged at the local, regional, and international levels. In 2018, this included, among others: 5 international sector intelligence missions, 69 events, 175 projects with specialized export, innovation/digitization, business intelligence, and intellectual property partners, 11 business projects in collaboration with Espace-inc, Espace LABz, and ACET-National Bank, and a new group mentoring program for entrepreneurs.
Sherbrooke Innopole has also been actively involved in optimizing the front-line Entrepreneur Hub service, which brings together nearly a dozen organizations working in economic development in Sherbrooke. Intended for entrepreneurs whose business projects may fall under the expertise of several organizations, the service – free of charge – has helped guide 30 start-up projects, five of which are in key sectors.
The Sherbrooke International and Validation d’Innovation Technologique à l’Essai (VITE – validation of pilot technological innovations) programs have enabled support of 17 Sherbrooke SMEs in their efforts to develop new foreign markets and to accelerate their progress toward commercialization.
In terms of Funding, over $1.2M was invested in 15 start-up, pre-marketing, innovation, and growth projects of Sherbrooke companies channelled from one of the six Sherbrooke Innopole funds, producing spinoffs exceeding $67M and creating or consolidating over 450 jobs. Every dollar invested also generated $54.94 in local investment.
As part of the Liaison orientation – in reference to the role of Sherbrooke Innopole with municipal authorities in industrial localization and development projects – highlights include the development of new industrial sites in the Regional Industrial Park, the creation of an information kit for construction projects in Sherbrooke’s industrial and scientific parks, and the launch of the Synergie Estrie project in collaboration with the Les Sources RCM. “In just eight months of promotion, 34 companies have already undertaken a circular economy approach and 7 synergies have been materialized; the movement is well underway!” stated Josée Fortin.
Sherbrooke Innopole’s location service also participated in the sale of 6 industrial sites, as well as 60 relocation or settlement projects – 15 of which have been completed in 2018, for expected investments of approximately $32.6M, and resulting in the creation or maintenance of 459 jobs.
“The expansion of the Regional Industrial Park undertaken in 2016, combined with the economic climate conducive to our entrepreneurs’ strong desire for growth, have greatly promoted the retention and settlement of innovative companies in Sherbrooke; this process, among others, must be continued with the development of a new industrial park in consultation with experts of the City,” explained Fortin.
In the same vein, only one year after its opening in November 2017, the multi-tenant science centre Espace LABz had an occupancy rate of 84%. “Here is yet another example of a reception infrastructure demonstrating its relevance, and for which we must be forward-thinking. This is why phase 2 will soon be on the drawing board,” Fortin announced.
As part of the Business Services component, Sherbrooke Innopole’s team conducted 470 interventions with Sherbrooke companies to support them in their start-up, set-up, and growth projects. Of these, 236 have been completed in 2018, generating investments of over $105.7M and resulting in the creation or consolidation of 476 jobs.
Sherbrooke Innopole also contributed to enhancing the reputation and attractiveness of Sherbrooke and its companies through its website – over 600 news articles, blogs, events, and job offers published – and its social platforms, with 2185 publications across 12 social networking accounts reaching over 21 700 subscribers, including the Flash INNOV newsletter.
Profile of the industrial/high-value-added services sector
According to the annual survey conducted by Sherbrooke Innopole with businesses from Sherbrooke’s industrial and high-value-added services sector, the five key sectors now account for 19 931 jobs across 664 businesses. This reflects a net gain of 11 companies and 1128 jobs.
“This means a 6% increase in jobs, mainly in the Advanced Manufacturing and Cleantech key sectors, a staggering result considering the workforce shortage. This demonstrates the ingenuity and determination of Sherbrooke’s entrepreneurs to remain focused on growth,” exclaimed Nault.
Additionally, two thirds of the key sector companies – 407 out of 664 – together invested over $223M in optimization, innovation, and expansion projects. “This is a new peak, reflecting the dynamism and vision of our entrepreneurs, who are helping to make Sherbrooke a truly prosperous city,” said Nault.
70% of these investments are related to innovation and productivity, i.e. 30% in Research and Development and 40% in Machinery and Equipment. “These percentages have been holding strong for almost a decade,” explained Josée Fortin. In 2018, however, there was an increase in the percentage of funds invested in R&D across all key sectors. In other words, companies are increasingly relying on the development of new products, processes, and services to stand out and accelerate their growth. Hats off to them!”
“Sherbrooke Innopole is a key partner for us; the quality of this team’s work is certainly connected to the fact that Sherbrooke is the second-best entrepreneurial city in the country,” affirmed Sherbrooke Mayor, Steve Lussier.
Changes in the Board of Directors
Sherbrooke Innopole welcomes a new director on its board of directors: Étienne Villeneuve, Head of Operations and Technical Services at Neptune Wellness Solutions.
At Sherbrooke Innopole’s annual general meeting, held on Tuesday evening, Serge Auray, founding President of Laboratoire M2, Annie Lessard, partner at Deloitte, and Francine Guay, President of M.I. Intégration, were appointed as Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary, respectively. Manon Tremblay, President of Plastimum, was also elected as Vice-President.
To view the 2018 annual report: http://bit.ly/RapportAct-SI2018 (French)
Source: Sherbrooke Innopole
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