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Author: Lynette Tremblay

Now is the time for bold ideas and action

Lynette Tremblay, Vice President Strategy and Innovation, Edmonton Global

Alberta has experienced its share of turmoil throughout its nearly 115 years as a province. From floods to wildfires to perpetual commodity boom and bust cycles to global financial crises, we’ve weathered it all and come out the other side stronger. Each time we face adversity, we come together, support our neighbours, and roll up our sleeves to do what it takes to weather the storm.

It will take the same level of ingenuity, grit and combined effort to see us through this latest crisis.

Companies across Alberta are rising to the challenge. Distillers are stepping up to make hand sanitizer and cleaning products, manufacturers and engineers are making ventilators and masks, and companies are donating…. Meanwhile, our government is stepping up to help our neighbours by sending supplies across provincial borders, all while doing a commendable job of keeping Albertans safe and preventing spread of the virus. This is what it means to be an Albertan, whether you were born here or just moved here – it’s what we do. Albertans have an incredible work ethic, ingenuity and a fierce patriotism rooted in a strong sense of community.

But the COVID-19 crisis is unique.

What makes this fundamentally different than anything we’ve ever faced before is that there will not be a return to what we know as ‘normal’. We hear a lot of talk about the ‘new normal’ signalling that economists, governments and industry alike know the world will be different on the other side of this, we just don’t know exactly how yet.

But we do have some early indicators. The companies surviving – and in some cases thriving – are those that defy the status quo, innovate their business models to adapt to new realities and introduce disruptive new technologies that create entirely new industries and products. The jurisdictions coming out of the crisis soonest and strongest are the ones who leverage massively-scalable digital and network infrastructure, use technology to link across industries and ecosystems and who innovate fast and operationalize even faster.

Now is the time for bold ideas and action.

We have the ingredients to be global leaders and create made-in-Alberta solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Tremendous opportunity exists in energy and agricultural sustainability, food security, healthcare and pharmaceutical innovation and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for manufacturing and construction. These are areas we excel at and already have deep expertise in. Innovation will be the key to turning this economic disruption into opportunity, but it will require significant and immediate investments in talent and digital infrastructure to support our businesses in adopting the next generation of tools that will help them become more globally competitive.

These are all part of Edmonton Global’s white paper, “Road to Recovery”, which was developed in collaboration with economists, industry and economic development partners. It’s a guide to support the Government of Alberta in developing its economic stimulus and recovery measures.

We could not have predicted what has happened over the past months, but we can be the architects of the kind of economic future we want for our province and future generations.

Opinion: It’s time to go global

Lynette Tremblay, Edmonton Global’s Vice President, Strategy & Innovation and one of the authors of GOING GLOBAL: A GUIDE TO COMPETING IN A GLOBALIZED ECONOMY

Alberta’s economy has seen its share of change and upheaval in recent times – stagnant growth, a contracting energy sector, low commodity prices, market access challenges, and investor uncertainty. Much of this change has been the result of a broader transformation in the global economy, where forces such as the rise of populism, automation, digitization, and the threat of climate change are ushering in a new era of economic disruption. 

But in disruption, there is also opportunity. Three global trends in particular present a unique opportunity for Alberta and, indeed, all of Canada to use innovation to its advantage.

The first is the rapid rise of middle-class growth in emerging markets, driving unprecedented demand for manufactured goods, energy and food. It is estimated that we as a global community will need to produce as much food in the next 45 years as we have had to in the previous 10,000. There is no way we can meet that demand without innovating.

The second key trend relates to an aging global population. By 2050, nearly a quarter of the world’s population will be over the age of 60, rising to nearly 3 billion by the end of the century. Combine this with the increasing rates of chronic disease and it is almost a certainty that there will be new pressures, fiscal and otherwise, on our health care system in the not-too-distant future. Industry is recognizing this, with the health technology market already seeing an astounding 45% compound annual growth rate globally, which will only continue to accelerate.

Finally, the power of disruptive technologies – artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics – is creating new economic opportunities in traditional sectors by increasing productivity and, in turn, driving increased profits and GDP growth. In the manufacturing sector alone, it is expected that Internet of Things applications will generate $1.2 – $3.7 trillion of global economic value by 2025. These technologies are not going anywhere and will only continue to grow in their demand.

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is uniquely well-positioned to capitalize on these new demands and opportunities driven by these global trends. Over the past few years, perhaps to the surprise of some outside the province, the region has begun to house some of the most innovative advanced technology companies in the world – everything from artificial intelligence and machine learning, to robotics, to companies in the clean tech, health tech and agri-tech spaces. Our compelling global value proposition is the combination of our core sector strengths – energy, manufacturing, health, and food and agriculture – and their technology-driven transformations.

But competition remains fierce and, in the global race for investment, our region, province, and country are being outpaced by lesser competitors. Why? Because we are mired in 20th century thinking, policies and institutions trying to compete in a 21st century, technology-driven economy. The world has been changing, but we have not been changing with it, or at least not as quickly as is required. Governments must be open to new thinking and new ways of doing things. We cannot afford complacency in this new economic era.

In light of this, 15 municipalities in the Edmonton Region united around a common goal: to attract more global investment to our region and to help local companies go global. As a result of this ambition, Edmonton Global was created.

Edmonton Global – the first-ever regional economic development corporation dedicated to the region – works to create local, regional, provincial, national, and global partnerships, collaborating with all levels of government, academia, industry and local economic development agencies to radically transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region by making it the choice location for investment and increasing our global competitiveness.

To assist the work being done by provincial and federal governments to chart a path to future prosperity, Edmonton Global created Going Global: A Guide to Competing in a Globalized Economy. On March 10th, the organization, alongside partners from the Edmonton International Airport, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association and Innovate Edmonton, will be in Ottawa and will be bringing a message of optimism, opportunity and partnership to the federal government as we collectively seek to increase our global competitiveness and drive economic growth.

The Edmonton Region representatives visiting Ottawa include businesses, business associations and other economic development partners from agri-tech, value-added energy, commercial real estate, life sciences and pharmaceutical innovation, logistics, cannabis, screen media and more. The group will be encouraging the federal government to take action in four key areas outlined in Going Global:

1. Adopting a global mindset across government. Including measuring our competitiveness in relation to global peers, using data-driven decision-making and taking a coordinated approach to international investment attraction.

2. Creating an enabling environment. This includes growth-enabling regulation, taxation and infrastructure (including digital infrastructure). If we are not competative in these three areas, we simply will not be in the game.

3. Investing in a globally competitive talent pool. Talent is a key driver of the new economy, we need to attract and retain more foreign talent, empower Indigenous Peoples, and focus on skills for the modern economy.

4. Fostering world-class innovation. By accelerating commercialization and adoption of advanced technologies and integrating innovators with the global supply chain.

At its core, the Edmonton Region delegation’s message in Ottawa will be simple: there is global opportunity that we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on – let’s work together to Go Global!

Follow and lend your voice to the delegation heading to Ottawa.
Twitter #goglobalYEG & @edmontonglobal

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