19 March 2014
Sherbrooke Innopole’s five-year strategic plan – Following through with a plan to serve the business community
PRESS RELEASE – Today, Sherbrooke Innopole unveiled its five-year strategic plan recently vetted by the City of Sherbrooke’s Economic Development Agency’s Board of Directors, which affirms the primacy of businesses at the heart of Sherbrooke Innopole’s actions and decision-making.
The 2009-2013 plan had been developed on the basis of conclusions from the Johnson report on Sherbrooke’s economic future and had gathered community consensus. Thus, its 2014-2019 iteration is in keeping with the direction set: “We are staying the course because the strategy adopted in 2009, based on entrepreneurship, innovation and the five key sectors turned out to be a winning strategy and has yielded tangible results,” explains Sherbrooke Innopole Director General, Josée Fortin. Concretely, Sherbrooke Innopole has seen a net gain of 42 businesses and 1,400 jobs in the key sectors between 2010 and 2012, in a difficult economic environment and a receding labour market. The 2013 review that will be published on April 30th by Sherbrooke Innopole looks to be the same.
Sherbrooke has also made a name for itself on the international scene as witnessed by the coming of several foreign delegations in the last few years and the regular mention of Sherbrooke’s key sectors in the specialized international press. “Held last September, Sherbrooke’s International Life Sciences Summit, which gathered 300 participants from nine countries, is an telling example of how far we have come in terms of notoriety,” points out Ms. Fortin.
As sound as were these 2009-2013 results, the development of the new plan nonetheless underwent a thorough and rigorous process. To start with, every component of the 2009-2013 plan was evaluated as for its relevancy and results by the professionals on Sherbrooke’s Innopole’s team. Following this, focus groups were held with Sherbrooke entrepreneurs and researchers. “It was important for us to know that our strategy was in line with the challenges, needs and issues of our major constituency. These meetings put us on the track of some concrete projects and helped up refine several aspects of the plan, insists Ms. Fortin. Sherbrooke Innopole’s team and Board of Directors were actively and rigorously involved in formulating the plan.”
According to the Director General, the three mainstays of the strategy can be boiled down to: Facilitate, Coach and Communicate, wrapped around two fundamental themes: entrepreneurship and innovation. “We do not create businesses or jobs. The entrepreneurs who do that are at the core of Sherbrooke’s economic vitality. I salute their dynamism and determination; they are the key to our collective success.”
“Our role at Sherbrooke Innopole is to help businesses get started and grow, to help them with their innovation ventures, to get project financing, to globalize and find adequate business premises, explains Ms. Fortin. In concrete terms, we are talking about personalized coaching, partnership development, networking with the University pole, mentoring and communications, which contribute to the notoriety of our businesses everywhere in Québec and even abroad.”
Sherbrooke Innopole also has in readiness several large projects for the short and medium term, among which are the development of new industrial properties, the creation of a business incubator and specific infrastructure for young Life Sciences Companies. In addition, manufacturing companies will be paid special attention in the coming years with projects and initiatives especially developed for their needs.
“The manufacturing industry has always been at the heart of our activities and constitutes our economic base, points out the Director General. In light of the predicted recovery of the US economy, potential free-trade exchange with the European Union and the value of the Canadian dollar that engenders hope for a major exportation recovery, there is momentum for the industrial sector. This is a do or die moment for us to help manufacturers tackle marketing challenges and productivity improvements, which often take place through innovation.”
The professionals at Sherbrooke Innopole have also prepared a detailed action plan. Several other projects and initiatives will be launched or renewed in the next few months, such as the third Cleantech Rendez-vous to be held in May and the International Life Sciences Summit, in September 2015.
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