There is a marked shift in Quebec’s business landscape as emerging leaders and entrepreneurs begin to take the reins and drive our economy into the future.
During the event highlighting the candidates for the Person of the Year Awards, I had the opportunity to meet these leaders who are changing today and tomorrow’s business world.
In 2018, 75 Quebec companies made the Growth 500 list of fastest-growing companies in Canada. What makes Quebec a conduit for promising start-ups and internationally minded businesses and a breeding ground for top talent? The recipe is simply put: innovation and education.
Innovation: the ability to see beyond what meets the eye
According to the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions Strategic Plan 2021, 26% of Canadian R&D expenses are attributed to the province of Quebec. Innovation is tightly woven into the fabric of Quebec. By altering processes and ideas and pushing boundaries, leaders and entrepreneurs apply ingenuity and creativity to address current needs and anticipate future ones. This type of foresight is crucial to creating businesses that will respond to the demographic landscape of the future.
New businesses and leaders are innovating in a variety of ways.
Artificial intelligence and technology for growth
Companies are increasingly relying on artificial intelligence and technology to improve existing processes in traditional sectors. One just has to look at the way the fourth industrial revolution is changing the manufacturing sector. In fact, 73% of manufacturing companies in Quebec are using some type of automation while medium-sized companies surpass this average with 83% of them using automation.
Artificial intelligence and new technologies are also changing the way we do things and think, creating new markets in emerging sectors. Algorithms, virtual and augmented reality, and the Internet of things are some examples. At Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, we have developed a powerful algorithm that can identify students at risk of dropping out of school, a tool commissioned by the Val-des-Cerfs School Board and gaining attention across the province.
Challenges turned into business opportunities
New entrepreneurs are innovative in considering modern-day challenges as business opportunities. For example, LOOP juices, a division of Courchesne Larose, is creatively repurposing food waste by making cold-pressed juices and other drinks from (yet still edible) outcasts of the food industry.
Education: the genesis of the entrepreneurial journey
Innovation alone already sets us apart, but coupled with education, its power is exponential. In Quebec, we have the foundation for innovative ideas to become thriving businesses, thanks to world-class universities and training programs in arts, design, hi-tech and sciences, and the support of both the business world and government. In fact, Montréal produces one of the largest number of new university graduates in Canada. Close to 50% of the city’s population possesses a university certificate or diploma (Institut de la statistique du Québec, Panorama des régions du Québec 2017, p.45).
We need to assert the importance of education whenever the opportunity arises and to enhance the status of apprenticeships, recognize the work of educators, encourage young people to stay in school and support sports-study and arts-study initiatives. Promoting academic achievement is the key to success for all Quebeckers and for an innovative, creative and competitive province.
What’s in store for the future?
Quebec’s entrepreneurial ambition is driven by equal doses of innovation and education. It is what propels the province and sets it apart. Our skilled leaders and entrepreneurs are innovating in a myriad of ways and are consistently staying one step ahead, foreseeing what will be important to people in the coming years. These are not just trends, they are shaping our province, one idea and one business at a time.