Conference & Meetings World Issue 102 - Page 24

Strategy associations within life sciences. To attract them we worked with Global Affairs Canada and our counterpart from the Economic, Development, Trade and Investment Agency to work with Canadian embassies worldwide and the corporations they deal with to identify which ones could hold meetings and events in Canada (priority No. 1) and (priority No. 2) who could also potentially be mature for trade and investment. All 15 clients that came were really open to both propositions. Each city at Innovate Canada was represented by both the convention bureau and a life science expert in trade and investment. It was more of an equal opportunity on both sides. agriculture and fisheries to marine biodiversity, to ocean technology, to shipyards, shipbuilding, offshore oil and gas, marine transportation, etc. Anything oceans-related within natural resources. All our partners will be coastal cities with a centre of excellence within this industry. Saskatoon was at the recent Innovate Canada event on life sciences. When you talk about vaccines, Saskatoon has a place at the table. Compared to the very large cities, Saskatoon doesn’t feel like a smaller city, it feels like an equal partner when talking within that sphere. CMW: Canada seems to be leading the way in defining its vertical markets and promoting them for conferencing. VdV: Oh, yes. For example, the Protein Summit. Bridge2Food is an organisation from the Netherlands and they are very interested in Protein superclusters. They’re organising two events this year – in June and July this year and they’re in Calgary and Saskatoon. The supercluster initiative is more than just investing money; it is about doing business differently - about leveraging strengths to drive innovation, overcome barriers and explore new opportunities. By creating more value-added processing opportunities in Canada, the idea is to generate new companies, products, processes, services, and jobs. IS: Are organisers now looking at more than just the venue and the destination? CSN: Other countries do have similar strategies. Look at the size of Canada, in one year Virginie has connected with 23 key Canadian cities that has a strength in those seven sectors. When looking at Canada, international organisers only really knew about Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver - three cities. Now 20 other cities fit in our seven sectors – all of them are raising the bar, embracing the strategy and asking how they can jump on board and how can they participate. We haven’t had one city that has not wanted to get involved or say they can’t. We continue to build on Innovate Canada, which is now our signature event, and next year it’s going to be in St John’s, Newfoundland and focusing on natural resources. This will be in the first week of September 2020. It will be at the same time as the World AquaCulture Conference. We always align Innovate Canada with a major event relevant to the sector we’re promoting. IS: What about the city’s infrastructure outlook for the future? CSN: Canada, over the last 5-8 years, has invested a lot into its infrastructure. We’re not worried about any of the 23 cities. We’re not worried about any infrastructure gaps from convention centres to hotels to venue to arts and culture museums. All our destinations are well equipped and have state of the art venue facilities. Halifax has a new convention centre, Winnipeg’s doubled in size, and Calgary is doubling its size over the next couple of years, etc. VdV: But, in a broad sense, so when we talk natural resources, we’re talking 24 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD IS: And what about air lift? / ISSUE 102 Below: Halifax, Nova Scotia, at night CSN: There are still issues or gaps with bringing more carriers into Canada, but that’s a government issue. There is fairly strict regulation. We do have more flights and seats, more times a day. Halifax has increased its airlift considerably. London maybe does not realise how close it is to the east coast of Canada. It’s only a five-hour flight - direct. We want to continue investing in our strategy and this includes staff. We have representatives worldwide, from London to five representatives in the US (New York, Texas, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington) and we’re opening an office next year in China, India and Mexico. Each office will have representatives that will be proactive in selling corporate meetings and incentive travel. We’ll also have specialists in our sectors. They will then target business and events related to the sectors with a view to bringing them to Canada, matching them with a specific destination.