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Pierre Fitzgibbon: “Innovation zones, a springboard for the Quebec economy”

This article is taken from the special issue of Le Figaro “D’Est en Ouest – Vivre au Canada”, available on the Figaro Store.

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Pierre Fitzgibbon: “Innovation zones, a springboard for the Quebec economy”

This article is taken from the special issue of Le Figaro “D’Est en Ouest – Vivre au Canada”, available on the Figaro Store.

FIGARO - How to define innovation zones (ZI)?

Pierre Fitzgibbon - These are groups of businesses, research centers and support organizations, which aim to stimulate innovation and economic growth in different regions of Quebec. They provide a favorable environment for collaboration and knowledge exchange as well as access to resources and funding.

What are the objectives?

P.F. - The ZIs are part of a targeted and responsible economic development plan for Quebec. We are a French-speaking province of 8.5 million people surrounded by other Canadian provinces and the United States, so we had to find our niche. In a context of globalization, to be efficient it is preferable to choose sectors where you can stand out. We therefore wanted to focus on these sectors and geographic areas with high added value. We will bring together knowledge institutions (colleges, universities), large companies that will invest and start-ups. The government, for its part, will finance infrastructure. It is important that our young people in Quebec and our future immigrants see these ZIs as areas where it becomes interesting to work.

Tell us about current and upcoming projects?

P.F. - Today we have two formally established ZIs: Sherbrooke Quantum, focused on quantum sciences, and Technum Québec in Bromont, dedicated to digital technologies. Ultimately, eight zones could emerge: in aeronautics in the Montreal region; in energy transition (battery sector) in a Shawinigan, Trois-Rivières, Bécancour corridor; in personalized health (artificial intelligence, stem cells, etc.) in Montreal and Quebec; in agri-food in Montérégie; in fishery products in Gaspésie, in the mining sector in Abitibi and in northern Quebec; in so-called “green” aluminum in Saguenay and in clean technologies around Cycle Capital, a Montreal venture capital investor.

Will there be effects on employment and the call for foreign labor?

P.F. - Clearly, targeted immigration constitutes an issue for Quebec and we will have to call on immigrants who will lend us a hand. Innovation zones will become magnets to attract young Quebec graduates, but also students from abroad. We currently have gaps and a lack of expertise in certain very specialized sectors such as the field of batteries for electric vehicles. We must open the door to workers outside Quebec to fill positions that cannot be filled here. We will help them learn French, because we are French-speaking, and to love Quebec so that they want to stay.

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