Canada’s Manitoba Department of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade (Booth U98) has an exhibit at the Singapore Airshow for the first time to assist small and medium-sized companies look for new or expanded business opportunities.
Manitoba’s focus in the past had been in Europe, said Robert Manson, a senior project manager with the department. But Asia is where the future markets are, and the province is working hard to become more familiar with the region, said Manson. In the its 2010-2011 annual report, Manitoba’s exports to the Asia Pacific region totaled C$1.9 billion ($1.89 billion), with China as the second-largest import market, totaling C$649.9.6 million ($647 million).
The department representing the Canadian province is in Singapore to support its companies that are exhibiting, said Manson. “We’ve also branded Manitoba as a cold-weather test center of excellence, and we hope to gain more knowledge about Asian markets and dynamics and bring attention to our facilities,” he said. “We’re also attending a day-and-a-half long seminar with our embassy that includes meetings with all the Canadian trade commissioners in the Asia Pacific region, which will be very useful.”
The ties of Manitoba to aerospace and aviation go back to the beginning of the 20th century, said Manson. “Standard Aero [Booth T95] goes back to 1908. Magellan Aerospace’s Bristol Aerospace [Booth T107] goes back to before World War II and Boeing [Booth U23] has been in the province since the 1970s. There’s a lot of depth here,” he said.
Manson credited attending air shows like Farnborough and Paris with developing “tremendous working relationships” with engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney. “I won’t say that being at the show got them to Manitoba, but it did facilitate it,” he stated. The high level of activity and contacts at air shows like Singapore and the fact that there are so many executives in such a concentrated area, is something a person could spend months on outside this event, said Manson.
Manson is attending the show with Don Callis, vice chair, president and CEO of the department’s Manitoba Trade and Investment Corp., which was created to support building the province’s economy through increased exports and industry investment. “He and I have the same agenda, plus he will meet with the Singapore Economic Development Board,” he added. “We generally try to take a political individual to the air shows. It allows us to gain entry to companies and talk at the levels we like.”
The Department of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade does not have a mechanism in place to measure its return on investment in attending the Singapore Airshow, said Manson. “We’re not approaching the show with signed orders. But we do get feedback and queries after the show,” he explained. “You have to be patient in this game. Five years is the average, from the first inquiry to companies on the ground.”
Also representing Canada at the show is the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation (Booth T91).