It is increasingly difficult to stand out in business without innovating. Lagging behind other major Canadian provinces, Quebec must put its foot on the accelerator, according to experts who believe that innovation is “not a choice, but an obligation”.
At the end of January, a Léger survey conducted on behalf of the Conseil de l’innovation du Québec revealed that 51% of Quebec companies had carried out an innovation project between February 2021 and February 2022.1. This proportion climbs to 56% for Ontario and 60% for British Columbia, the two other most populous provinces in Canada.
” It is not good news. We have a lot of work to do,” says Pascal Monette, President and CEO of the Association for the Development of Research and Innovation in Quebec (ADRIQ), in an interview. This delay also affects marketing and production, he adds.
“It’s a significant gap, but there are things that can change in a few years. »
Many people talk about innovation. It is becoming more and more of a concern, we feel that the train is moving. Only downside, in Quebec, we have a fabric of SMEs, so not the same capacities and the same internal resources.
Pascal Monette, CEO of ADRIQ
Knowing that innovation is an important engine of growth in business, how can an SME get started? There are several options. Surrounding yourself with competent people is a key.
First, the ADRIQ offers up to 125 hours of multidisciplinary support to companies with which it is in communication through its network of contacts or the Industrial Research Assistance Program (PARI) of the Conseil National Research Center of Canada (NRC). This training focuses more on management.
As for applied research, you can knock on the door of a college technology transfer center (CCTT). There are 39 in Quebec. The province’s nine Industrial Research Sector Groups (RSRIs) are also a good option for linking universities to the needs of industry. Both types of organizations can provide advice, knowledge and funding.
SMEs have difficulty seeing clearly. One of the challenges is to put the right resources in contact with companies. […] From the moment they are accompanied, they will see the results.
Pascal Monette, CEO of ADRIQ
Be a step forward
Érick Villeneuve is president of APF Villeneuve, an industrial metal parts machining company located in Crabtree, in Lanaudière. He says he always wanted to “be a step ahead of others”.
In 2017, Mr. Villeneuve went to visit the Peugeot car factory in France to learn about the connection of machines. It is a technique that provides real-time information that allows you to optimize your production line.
As soon as he returned, he acquired software to connect his own. After a year and a half of work and thanks to $200,000 in funding, he managed to connect 20 machines, which he sees as a way to “do more with the same team”.
In 2018, it also started automating some tasks through robots. Its employees, initially recalcitrant, were quickly convinced by their effectiveness.
It may seem like a lot of money, he admits. But with 33 employees, his robots and his connected machines, Érick Villeneuve is now able to produce as if he had 45 or 50.
He believes that more entrepreneurs should innovate through automation, and that they are “too entrenched in old-fashioned ways that have always worked”.
Canada and Quebec, we are taking a step back in manufacturing each year if we compare ourselves with other countries. It’s not good, the way we are currently working. It is very important to take this turn. The future will not be there for us if we do not adapt immediately.
Érick Villeneuve, President of APF Villeneuve
For him, the desire to innovate requires open-mindedness, interest and curiosity.
“To start innovating, you have to force a small project to experience success. If you have something that is repetitive and annoying your employees, tell yourself one thing: it’s probably automatable. Start with this as your first project. Afterwards, it will happen on its own,” says Érick Villeneuve, of APF Villeneuve.
- Proportion of Quebec SMEs that plan to carry out an innovation project over the next 36 months. This proportion is rather 74% among companies with an innovation manager.
Source: Quebec Innovation Council