The UK is more than a wooden throne. The Albion presents itself these days to the Montreal and Quebec technology sector as the springboard par excellence to conquer Europe. A sort of upside-down crossing of the Atlantic powered by the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI).
“The international rankings place us as one of the most promising markets for artificial intelligence”, says from the outset to the Duty UK Department of Business and Trade technology specialist Chris Moore. “In Canada, we see that Quebec AI also stands out. This is why we see Quebec as an attractive potential partner, as the UK is the next big growth opportunity for AI companies. »
Convincing Montreal’s AI to make the leap across the Atlantic without landing across the Channel is the current mission of the Consulate General of the United Kingdom in Montreal, which is increasing its efforts these days to forge links with this business ecosystem. flourishing.
“We see opportunities to innovate in areas like retail, healthcare and manufacturing,” continued Chris Moore. Over the past 10 years, we have built a network of science and technology-focused training centers that make us a different option from the United States for companies facing a shortage of skilled workers. »
The timing of this outing is not insignificant: the 2023 edition of London Tech Week is taking place from June 12 to 16, an event of international scope that is making a comeback now that COVID is n is more in the portrait. The organizers are hoping for a big hit — and the representatives in Canada from England and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland don’t want to miss their chance either.
The contingent of Canadian companies invited to London in mid-June will be the largest yet.
From London to Belfast
Northern Ireland particularly wants to reconnect with Quebec companies. The Belfast region could count on the significant presence of the Montreal aircraft manufacturer Bombardier until the latter parted with its commercial aircraft manufacturing activities to focus on luxury private business jets.
One of the biggest Canadian employers in Northern Ireland these days is Montreal-based computer company CGI, which has a research and development center in Belfast. “Aerospace and technology are two of the sectors that we have identified as potential for creating commercial ties with Quebec,” says Michael Barton, Regional Director of Invest Northern Ireland – Americas.
“We come to celebrate 25 years of peace in our region, which have also been 25 years of economic growth. We believe we are the ideal bridge between Canada, the UK and Europe. »
Northern Ireland has its eye on the companies that make up the Canadian AI innovation cluster based in Montreal. The role of this cluster was recently redefined by the federal government — which funds the organization Scale AI, which is supposed to represent this sector — precisely to accelerate the international expansion of Canadian AI companies.
“There’s a lot to do in terms of safety and quality, ethics and sound data management in areas like machine learning. Northern Ireland has cybersecurity expertise. We could do great things in partnership with Montreal researchers and companies who are experts in AI,” says Michael Barton.
A little-known “digital free trade”
This desired technological shift in trade relations between Canada and the United Kingdom stems from the signing in the spring of 2022 by the governments of the two countries of a free trade agreement that includes a significant digital component. It imposes better management of digital data and simplifies exchanges by electronic commerce between the two regions.
The free trade deal with Canada also gives the UK access to the 500 million consumers and $15 trillion trade that is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which Canada participates.
According to government projections, all of this should lead to a 45% increase in the value of trade between Canada and the United Kingdom by 2035, which is currently at $32 billion per year.
If we are to believe the impact of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, businesses here are slow to expand their exports beyond the American market. It is mainly European companies that take advantage of this to land in the country.
The provisions related to the digital economy contained in the agreement with the United Kingdom are an opportunity to seize to turn the tide, say, in short, its representatives. “We want to attract AI companies from Montreal to us, but we also see our companies settling in Montreal to ensure their expansion in North America. Trade relations between Quebec and the United Kingdom will grow,” predicts Chris Moore