Neil Cooney

Market Watch – A view from Canada

Market Watch Canada Neil Cooney

Key Takeaways

• The public health response to Covid-19 in Canada was well informed by previously having dealt with the challenges caused by an outbreak of SARS in the early 2000s.
• There were some challenges, and the Canadian government has been swift and efficient in offering support to businesses and citizens across the country.
• Canada, like many jurisdictions, is seeing a resurgence of cases and borders are currently closed to mainstream traffic.
• Remote working has seen many industries pivot to a new way of doing business.
• Many sectors are moving apace and there is opportunity for Irish companies.

Along with almost every country in the world, Canada has felt the effects of the pandemic, but Neil Cooney, Enterprise Ireland Country Manager Canada, says while a second wave is also taking its toll, there are some positive signs of growth.

“The challenges of Covid-19 are significant and as a result, the Canadian government has committed extraordinary support to citizens and businesses during 2020 as economic activity is considered to be approximately 5% below February levels,” he says. “However the economy has seen four straight months of growth, as restrictions have been modified to support more of the economy coming back online.”

“Of course, like many other jurisdictions, Canada is seeing a resurgence of cases, particularly in its main metropolitan areas – and borders are currently closed for most travellers. So those doing business need to look carefully at the limited set of exceptions which may apply (for critical infrastructure or in healthcare) – while most workers in government, banking, technology and professional services sectors continue to work from home.”

Aside from the challenges of not being able to visit the market, meet customers and attend trade events, Cooney says another effect of Covid-19 has been that some pending projects were paused as companies reacted to the uncertainty, but this is beginning to change.

“We have seen projects reignite in recent months as business priorities have shifted from crisis management or remote working challenges to an acceleration in digitalization and providing better experiences for customers and employees,” he says.

“Pivoting to virtual has been an area of opportunity for many of the leading trade events and while they vary in format and cost, these events have reduced the barriers for Irish companies interested in learning more about trends and opportunities in Canada – which has always been challenging to do on a coast to coast basis as it is the world’s second largest country.”

The move to remote working and distributed teams has pushed businesses to openly consider solutions from providers, which they will engage with online from start to finish.
And according to Cooney, the manufacturing sector and supply chains generally have done well in overcoming the hurdles posed by the current global crisis.

“Like many markets, the challenges of Covid-19 have accelerated change in many areas with companies and industries adopting new technologies,” he says. “This has represented an opportunity for Irish companies which offer innovative solutions in areas such as cybersecurity, remote working enablement and digital health.

“And Canada recently announced investment of 10 billion (CAD) in infrastructure projects -through the Canadian Investment Bank – in energy, agricultural irrigation, connectivity, zero-emission buses, early construction works and buildings’ energy efficiency.”

He says with the impact of the crisis on the energy sector, there has been an opportunity to focus investment on environmental mitigation of orphan wells, developing renewable energy and charting a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

And the construction sector has continued its buoyant level of activity with an increasing focus on modular housing deployment and environmentally superior building technologies currently in demand.

“In addition, Canada has continued to invest significantly in its public infrastructure, including a recent announcement supporting broadband provision– which at $1.75 billion represents the largest one-time federal investment in broadband.”

Home to several world class clusters including the world’s third largest aerospace hub in Montreal, Canada is North America’s second largest financial services and technology cluster, leading capability in Artificial Intelligence technologies, and has a burgeoning technology sector.

Toronto has the highest cluster of AI start-ups in the world and Montréal boasts the highest density of researchers and students of deep learning in the world. This has highlighted an opportunity for EI Canada to join the conversation with focus on Irish AI capable clients.

But while virtual meetings have made it easier for companies outside Canada to explore new commercial relationships, there are certain factors which need to be considered.

“Companies approaching the market often have to think region by region in sourcing distribution, identifying partners, winning customers and setting-up beachhead sales operations,” says Cooney. “And while doing this in-person has always been a challenge given the scale of the territory, the current reliance on virtual meetings has created more of a ‘level playing field’ for companies outside Canada exploring new commercial relationships.

“But it is officially a bilingual country which means many products and services must offer English and French to participate in procurement or Request for Proposal processes. To this end, Enterprise Ireland has recently opened an office in Montreal to assist Irish companies in doing business in the region.

“And while Canada is often seen as an excellent proving ground and valuable reference site for the wider North America market, it is crucial to display knowledge and responsiveness to the distinct needs of Canadian customers, local regulatory requirements and differences in business practice – something which definitely applies to the complex, multi-stakeholder buying processes we see in the Healthcare and Telco sectors.”

However, the country manager says that Canadians prefer to work with companies which already have an established presence in the market.

“Demonstrating local presence can be an important way to gain trust and to reassure potential customers of the availability of your on-going support,” he says. “Canada is a welcoming country when it comes to entrepreneurs, investors, and talent, including from Ireland, and is as a result attracting significant business to tech hubs such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. And during Covid-19, this may mean establishing a virtual presence and hiring locally in-market – which is readily possible given the ease of set-up in Canada.”

To learn more about the steps companies can take to address the impact of Covid-19 visit our business supports page.

Webinars – Brexit Customs Briefing Series

As the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020, Irish businesses trading with the UK will need to operate in a new business environment.

To assist Irish companies with their final preparations, Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the Local Enterprise Offices will host a series of webinar briefings to advise on logistics, freight, customs clearance and the critical steps needed to avoid trading disruption on Jan 1st.

Register Below:

Evolve UK Podcast – Retail – in conversation with Validify’s CEO

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

Allyson Stephen, Enterprise Ireland UK’s Market Advisor for Consumer Retail, sat down with Fergal O’Mullane, CEO of UK retail tech platform Validify, to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the platform and where the sector might be in the coming months.





Evolve UK Podcast – Digital Technologies – meet the team

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

Every month, we will be bringing you our ‘Meet the Team’ podcast segment. In these episodes, you will get to know our sector teams on a personable level and find out more about the clients and sub-sectors they work with.

This episode introduces our Digital Technologies team of Padraic Geraghty and Sarah McNabb.




Opportunities in the UK Cybersecurity industry

This webinar explores the current state of the cybersecurity sector in the UK.

Enterprise Ireland‘s Sarah McNabb, Market Advisor in the UK was joined by Thom Langford, founder of TL(2) Security, former global CISO of Publicis Groupe and award winning security blogger to discuss:

  • UK Cybersecurity Current State of Play

  • Impact of Covid and Brexit on the sector

  • Future opportunities/trends and growth areas

  • In the mind of a CISO- how to successfully sell to a UK senior cyber buyer

  • Interactive discussion and Q&A

For more UK Digital Technologies insights click here.


Evolve UK Podcast – Digital Technologies

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

In this episode, senior market advisor Padraic Geraghty speaks with Eamonn Carey Managing Director of Techstars about remote working beyond COVID-19, key tips for Irish companies making the leap across the Irish Sea and the do’s and don’ts of seed funding. 





Evolve UK – Ready for Brexit: Meeting UK customer expectations

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar discuss how businesses are tackling customer communication and customer care during continued Brexit uncertainty with insights from:

Robert Rowlette, General Manager of Archway Products

Alan Croghan, Financial Director of EasyFix

Webinar – The state of play in UK retail

This webinar featured Allyson Stephen of Enterprise Ireland UK and retail expert, Brian Roberts an experienced retail & shopper insights professional, previously working with Kantar, Mintel and tcc Global.

This webinar will provide a unique insight into UK retail with discussion on:

  • Pre Covid strategies, performance and dynamics

  • impact of Covid-19 on the sector

  • Likely consumer sentiment and behaviours post-lockdown

Evolve UK Podcast – Local Authorities – UK Public Sector

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

Kevin Fennelly and Laura Brocklebank of Enterprise Ireland UK are joined by Nick Kilby former London councillor and CEO of Cratus communications to discuss how COVID-19 has accelerated change across the UK Public sector, how devolution will affect public sector suppliers going forward and the opportunities for Irish companies looking at the sector.




Global Ambition – Industry Insights: Retail webinar

Enterprise Ireland hosted a series of Global Ambition – Industry Insights sector focused webinars to deliver market intelligence on the evolving international export opportunities across global markets.

This Retail webinar discusses:

  • The global opportunity for online retail, both now and longer term

  • Routes to market and regional differences

  • Implications for Irish brands and how to capitalise on the online opportunities

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland’s Allyson Stephen with expert insights from

  • Frank van den Berg, CEO of InfinityBlue Marketplace

  • Michael Walsh, Marketing Director of Dubarry of Ireland

Watch the webinar here.

Evolve UK Podcast – Local Authorities

Enterprise Ireland’s Evolve UK podcast series shares market insights to help Irish businesses identify opportunities across the UK.

This episode is hosted by Deirdre McPartlin, Enterprise Ireland UK manager in conversation with Brendan Barry, Director, EI Electronics and Steve Trafford, National Sales Manager, AICO.

EI Electronics, one of Ireland’s largest electronics manufacturers, acquired AICO, a market leader in domestic fire and Carbon Monoxide (CO) protection,  and now has almost 1000 employees globally with revenues in the hundreds of millions. EI electronics and AICO joined the podcast to discuss what makes the partnership work and their success over the last 30 years.



Evolve UK: Establishing a UK presence

The Evolve UK webinar series highlights the opportunities for Irish companies interested in doing business with the UK.

This webinar examines how the establishment of a UK presence demonstrates long-term commitment to the market, providing customers and partners on the ground with the reassurance that your business is accessible at all times.

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland’s UK Manager, Deirdre McPartlin with insights from Gerry Collins, ECOVIS.