Industrial clusters continue to flourish in Québec

Québec’s industrial clusters have a flair for combining competitiveness and cooperation that may well be unique in the business world. This is an asset that should not be overlooked, says Jean-François Lisée, Minister of International Relations, La Francophonie and External Trade and Minister responsible for the Montréal region.

Québec is not the only place in the world where a region’s businesses, training institutions and relevant authorities have organized themselves into sector-based associations to pool their expertise and efforts, pointed out Minister Lisée before 600 attendees at the first Industrial clusters: Engine of the city’s economic vitality strategic forum. “People who are familiar with other models abroad tell us that they have never seen such a capacity for collaboration. There is something uniquely Québécois about this capacity to compete and collaborate at the same time—this is something very special and should be leveraged.”

Montréal’s eight clusters

The Greater Montréal region has eight industrial clusters, the longest-standing ones being life sciences (Montréal InVivo), aerospace (Aéro Montréal), information and communication technologies (TechnoMontréal) and film and television (ActionMTL). Clean technology (Écotech Québec) and financial services (Finance Montréal) came on board in 2010, followed by the new logistics and transportation cluster (CargoM) and the Québec aluminum industrial cluster (GIAQ) at the end of last year.

“Two or three more clusters are under development” and could see the light of day, said Lisée. One cluster could be the fashion sector. The Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal polled 15 potential clusters in the mid-2000s.

Facing challenges

Much like the Québec economy as a whole, these clusters have had to deal with the challenges brought by the shift to a green economy and the expansion of small businesses proliferating in Québec, noted the Minister for Industrial Policy and the Banque de développement économique du Québec, Élaine Zakaïb.

While coming to terms with the rapid and fundamental shifts in the business model of major pharmaceutical firms, the members of the Montréal InVivo cluster have pulled together and rallied behind prospective high-benefit projects such as personalized medical care and NEOMED—the new public-private drug development centre.

In order to help small businesses in its sector expand beyond Québec, TechnoMontréal has set up a program providing the fifty most promising businesses with access to experts who can devise a tailored development plan for them and provide the support they need to get off the ground.

Aéro Montréal has implemented a program whereby large businesses take smaller businesses under their wing to help them gain expertise until they are ready to join the ranks of international-calibre subcontractors.

Source: Le Devoir

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