By: Pamela Kanter, Senior Economic Officer, Paris Trade and Investment Office

Ontario and France: Partners in resilience

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the global marketplace to innovate, accelerate and respond resourcefully—including in my home province of Ontario, Canada. Living in France throughout the challenging past year, I have experienced first-hand the resilience of the commercial ties between businesses in Ontario and France.

As the head of Ontario’s Trade and Investment Office co-located at the Canadian Embassy in Paris, I lead a small team focused on promoting trade, investment and science and technology linkages between Ontario and France. Central to our role is facilitating direct connections with potential distributors, OEMs, buyers and R&D partners. We also open the door to investment opportunities in Ontario. Companies ranging in size from start-ups to multinationals in significant sectors of the economy draw on the services of Ontario’s network of international offices in Paris and key markets worldwide.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario’s Paris office confronted the challenge—as did so many companies and organizations—of identifying the best means to provide its business services. As we transitioned quickly to delivering programs on virtual platforms, we had yet to determine whether this approach to building Ontario’s profile in-market and making connections would be the right one.

More than a year later, this experience has demonstrated how partnerships structured for the long-term can withstand the pandemic stress test and accelerate new product development, commercialization and market access.

All the right ingredients

One reason French companies are interested in partnering with Ontario is our forward-thinking approach to doing business. We have all the right ingredients to help companies to succeed.

For example, Ontario’s vibrant innovation ecosystem is distinctive not only for its multilingual pool of exceptional talent, but also for its openness to new entrants. We have one of the most welcoming environments in the world, with job permit processing available in as little as ten business days for highly skilled talent.

Ontario is also known for its strategic location to access the North American market. Ontario’s extensive trade network with the U.S. and beyond is an asset for companies looking to invest. Furthermore, our integrated supply chains in the automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors, plus competitive cost advantages, make Ontario one of the best places to do business.

Ontario’s internationally recognized technology leadership is a powerful argument in favour of building a local presence: the province is home to North America’s second-largest IT cluster, with notable strengths in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, connected/autonomous vehicles and quantum computing. Ontario is well positioned therefore to build the technologies of the future.

A thriving life sciences community

Ontario’s strong biomedical research and medtech cluster, now ranked as North America’s fourth-largest, is attracting new investments by leading French companies. On March 31, 2021, Sanofi, a leading global biopharmaceutical and vaccines company, announced the expansion of its Ontario facility to meet the growing demand for flu vaccines, boost Canada’s preparedness for future pandemics and create 300 high-quality jobs. The government of Ontario, together with the government of Canada and the City of Toronto, partnered with Sanofi to realize this landmark investment in Ontario’s life science ecosystem.

Sanofi has committed to an average of $79 million a year in research and development in Ontario—or more than half a billion dollars over the life of the agreement. The company will leverage the province’s leading minds in science, backed by nearly 55,000 STEM graduates from Ontario’s post-secondary institutions each year.

In March 2021, Novocol Pharmaceutical of Canada, part of the Septodont Group, a French pharmaceutical and medical device company that is a world leader in dental pain management, announced the expansion of its biomanufacturing facilities in Cambridge, Ontario. This investment will support the expansion of Novocol’s fill-finish services and thereby contribute to improved domestic pandemic preparedness for vaccines and therapies.

LUMIBIRD also recently announced their expansion in Ottawa. As a member of the local ecosystem, LUMIBIRD will further develop its expertise in LiDAR systems by drawing on local talent and leveraging Ottawa’s position as a leader in the technology sector.

Thinking of Ontario? You’re in good company

Airbus, Atos, Faurecia, Safran, Suez, Thales and Veolia—these are just a few of the more than 100 French companies that have chosen to build their presence in Ontario.

The Ontario economy is diverse, with strong manufacturing and technology sectors, a network of regional innovation centres, vibrant start-up and research communities, and access to capital. These are among the compelling reasons to establish a presence in the province—and why so many French companies have already taken notice of what we have to offer.

The Paris Trade and Investment Office is delighted to contribute to this flourishing multifaceted commercial partnership. If you’re interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to contact us — we look forward to hearing from you.

May 7, 2021
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