As part of our mission to help clean technology companies access the support, funding, and expertise they need to succeed at home and abroad, we’ve organized a few informative sessions for our cleantech portfolio and other companies in the sector to learn more about expanding their business internationally.
Our first session featured the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), a department within Global Affairs Canada that works to connect Canadian companies in all industries and areas with funding and support programs, as well as international opportunities through a network of trade commissioners in over 160 cities around the world.
The session was presented by Pierre Delorme and Kelsey Hunter from the Pacific Regional Office. Pierre is based in Victoria, BC and is responsible for clients located across Vancouver Island operating in any sector, as well as clients across BC operating in the ocean technology space. Kelsey is based in Vancouver, BC and is responsible for companies in the cleantech sector (particularly remediation and water and wastewater treatment) and in Education in BC and Yukon.
The info session provided a chance for companies to hear directly from these experts about how Canadian small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) can access Trade Commissioner Services to help bring the business’ products and services to new international markets. For those who missed it, a recap of the information presented can be found below and is also available on the Trade Commissioner Services website.
What does the Trade Commissioner Service Do?
There are four main areas that TCS can help Canadian clean technology companies with.
Gaining market insights: Trade Commissioners can provide key market insights and practical business advice to help companies get a sense of what will be possible in a particular market.
Connect with key contacts: Commissioners can also help open doors to potential international partnerships and opportunities early on.
Find new opportunities: They can facilitate introductions between Canadian companies and high-value contacts in the market.
Resolve business problems: They can provide guidance, context, and help on the ground in the market when challenges inevitably arise along the way.
Together, these key services provide companies with opportunities to expand their business into new markets, while simultaneously reducing the risks. This federal government department has provincial and territorial counterparts as well. In British Columbia, Trade and Investment Representatives are able to provide additional assistance and services for investors, buyers, and exporters in certain target markets.
Accessing Funding Through TCS
TCS also provides a number of funding programs to help further reduce the risks associated with venturing into new markets by covering some of the costs of those new moves. Currently, four programs are being offered.
CanExport SMEs provides up to $75,000 in funding to help Canada’s SMEs get into international markets they don’t yet operate in.
CanExport Innovation provides up to $75,000 in funding to develop research and development collaborations in international markets through strategic partnerships.
CanExport Associations can provide up to $400,000 in annual funding for Canadian industry associations and trade organizations pursuing international business development.
CanExport Community Investments can provide up to $500,000 in annual funding for Canadian communities and local organizations to attract, retain, or expand foreign direct investment.
Other support for particular audiences and sectors can also be explored, including an Accelerated Growth Service, Canadian Technology Accelerators, Indigenous business export support, and initiatives for business women in international trade. Funding and financing through Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, and other agencies and services are intertwined with TCS.
Is Your Company Ready to Get in Touch with a Trade Commissioner?
In order to make use of TCS, there are certain thresholds that a company must meet. Companies should demonstrate a capacity for and commitment to internationalization. They should also have meaningful economic ties to Canada and the potential to contribute to Canada’s economic growth. Before getting in touch with TCS, first consider:
- Is your company’s management committed to sustaining export efforts?
- Does your company’s management have international business experience?
- Have you undertaken any foreign market research?
If your answer to these questions is a resounding “yes,” connecting with a Trade Commissioner in your area of operations or in your target market could help catalyze international business development efforts. If you’re still uncertain, take the Export-Ready quiz on the TCS website to help clarify where your company is at in terms of international expansion.
Ultimately, Trade Commissioners can help you grow your business, while mitigating risk, because they can provide the in-market expertise and access to financing that enables you to avoid the costly missteps that often come with entering new territory.
Thanks very much to Pierre, Kelsey, and the Trade Commissioner Services for sharing their knowledge and expertise with our cleantech companies! TCS plays a crucial part in helping Canada’s innovative clean technology solutions expand into new international markets.