Leaving Quebec, Expanding Abroad | Investissement Québec’s export shift

For years, Quebec has stepped up its efforts to attract foreign investment to boost economic activity. However, two years ago, the government committed to going in the opposite direction with similar efforts to support our companies to increase their exports and shine more abroad. A strategy that pays off.

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Since June 2020, Investissement Québec (IQ) has integrated the Department of Business and Innovation’s Export Québec teams into its own structure within its new Investissement Québec International (IQI) division, led by Hubert Bolduc, former CEO of Montreal International becomes.

Still busy attracting foreign investment to Quebec, Hubert Bolduc is now also responsible for increasing the visibility of our companies abroad, a new approach that requires a new approach.

“We have chosen to boost our exports by focusing on our 600-700 companies that are leaders in distribution outside of Quebec. Ideally, we want Quebec’s exports to be 50% of our gross domestic product, when they are currently 47% of GDP. We are therefore talking about increasing our foreign sales by 20 billion,” Hubert Bolduc explains to me.

Results proof

Since IQI launched this new strategy, the results have been compelling, says Guy LeBlanc, CEO of Investissement Québec. To measure their performance, the governmental body calculates the additional company sales made by companies supported by their export services.

“In 2019-2020, the company’s additional export sales amounted to 940 million. The following year they totaled 1.2 billion. In 2021-2022 we have reached 2 billion. And this year we are aiming for 3 billion additional company sales,” forecasts Guy LeBlanc, whom he met at the Farnborough International Air Show in the UK two weeks ago.


Marie-Ève ​​​​​​Jean, Senior Vice President, Exports, IQI

“With our export recovery plan that we launched in 2021, we have chosen to carry out fewer commercial missions, but in order to offer more services adapted to customers, we do more on a case-by-case basis,” Marie-Ève ​​​​explains to me for his part Jean, who became IQI’s first Vice President of Exports in June 2020.

Marie-Ève ​​​​Jean has been responsible for integrating about sixty specialists in Export Quebec from the Ministry of Economy and Innovation into the new IQI entity and she is the one who oversees the traffic between Quebec and the rest of the world .

“We have teams in Montreal and Quebec serving the world’s major geographic regions, and we have directors of business services in our general delegations abroad to whom we refer client companies.

“These economic directors are responsible for the Department of International Relations’ teams of trade attachés, drawn from the countries where our delegations are located. They know the market very well and have built up a valuable network of contacts,” says the Vice President.

Know about market

Marie-Ève ​​Jean, herself a former General Delegate of Quebec in Munich, knows the field work well and can measure its effectiveness. Last year, IQI was involved in 3,200 support files for Quebec companies to shine abroad.

“The ultimate goal is to create value for companies, diversify their markets and help them in their internationalization,” Marie-Ève ​​Jean told me.

To achieve this goal, IQI relies on its network of 34 Quebec representative offices in 19 countries. The United States alone has two general delegations in New York and Los Angeles, three other delegations in Boston, Chicago and Atlanta, and offices or branches in Washington, Houston and Silicon Valley and in Philadelphia.

The United States accounts for 70% of Quebec’s exports. This is a market that will remain important due to supply chain streamlining. But we want our companies to export all over the world.

Marie-Ève ​​​​​​Jean, Senior Vice President, Exports, IQI

In all delegations, IQI can therefore count on numerous respondents who have detailed knowledge of the market.

“Unfortunately, that’s a well-guarded secret,” says Hubert Bolduc. A few years ago I was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas when I met Eric Boyko, CEO of Stingray. He asks me what I’m doing there and I explain that I’m accompanying the Quebec delegation.

“He asks me if we have a representative office in Japan. I said yes, and three weeks later he was in Tokyo with our sales representatives,” says Hubert Bolduc.

strategies of internationalization

IQI has developed several internationalization strategies to support companies looking to expand their industrial or commercial presence.

“One company may wish to establish a commercial presence by opening a transit warehouse for its goods overseas, and another may seek to open a factory to serve a specific market, as Lion Electric just did in the United States .

“But we offer other services from Montreal. We have assembled a team to oversee all public markets that many Quebec companies may participate in. Every day, no fewer than 50,000 tenders are launched worldwide,” stresses Marie-Ève ​​Jean.

Guy LeBlanc confirms that a major Montreal company recently won a $300 million contract in one of these tenders sent to him by IQI.


Guy LeBlanc, CEO of IQ, and Hubert Bolduc, President of IQI

Another way for IQ to connect our companies to the rest of the world is to organize meetings with potential partners, such as this day, last May, which brought together around 25 international architects at a hotel in downtown Montreal The search for New Quebec brought together innovations in the field of construction or creative industries.

Throughout the day about 350 business meetings between companies and groups of client architects took place in a kind of office speed dating.

Jacques Gauthier, Business Development Manager of Upbrella, which has developed a construction technology at height without the use of cranes, attended the day and found it worthwhile.

After meeting five architecture firms and a New Hampshire property developer, Jacques Gauthier confirmed to me that morning that his exchange would lead to more serious discussions, particularly with the American property developer, who builds six to eight story buildings.

“Two architectural firms were also interested in our concept. We had good visibility,” confirms Jacques Gauthier, who didn’t have to travel too far for these meetings. We can easily start the project to shine abroad from Quebec.

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