“It was a real privilege to accompany such an accomplished, engaged, and professional delegation of Albertan technology companies to Europe.” – Katelyn Petersen, Executive Director of the GCCIR
Following the inception of the Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund in April 2018, our Matchmaking Missions now aim to cover more European countries than ever before. This means that the mission planning starts early in the spring. It takes a lot of work to decide on destinations, and there are many factors to consider, but in the end, the 2019 Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund Matchmaking Mission comprised symposia in Barcelona, Namur (Belgium), Düsseldorf, Prague, and Vienna from November 24 – December 4, 2019. The delegation included 15 Albertan SMEs, as well as GCCIR’s Executive Director, Dr. Katelyn Petersen, and Manager, Mr. Jonas Kuhn. As many of the companies sent two representatives, our delegation included 23 people in total. The goal of this mission was to provide Albertan companies with the opportunity to meet potential European partners for joint, innovative technology development projects.
This year was our second symposium in Barcelona. We organized the symposium in conjunction with Innoget, Catalonia Trade & Invest, ACCIO, and the Canadian Consulate in Barcelona. The cooperation ran very smoothly again this year, as did the event itself. Following the symposium in Barcelona, the delegation had a chance to tour a Eurecat facility. Eurecat is Catalonia’s network of applied research institutes, and we learned about additive manufacturing and robotics.
In Namur, our first foray into Belgium for a symposium, our event was held in conjunction with the annual Ira-SME and CORNET partnering event. Ira-SME is a network of funding organizations across Europe that coordinate calls for proposals and jointly fund international technology development projects. CORNET (Collective Research Networking) similarly leverages the resources of multiple funding programs to enhance the competitivity of SMEs, but by a slightly different mechanism. Our delegation had the opportunity to meet over 100 companies from a wide variety of eligible countries, and to learn about the Ira-SME network, which GCCIR is a part of.
In Düsseldorf, we worked together with ZENIT GmbH as our matchmaker and ZIM as our funding counterpart. We were pleased to have the Canadian Consul in Düsseldorf offer some words of welcome and Mr. Ghislain Robichaud, Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, deliver a presentation on the science, technology, and innovation landscape in Canada.
In Prague, we worked with Czech Invest and the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade to arrange the symposium and find appropriate matches for the Albertan delegation. As the Czech Republic is particularly strong in artificial intelligence, there were a number of AI companies present, which matched very well with the interests of the Albertan delegation. Following the Prague symposium, the delegation had the opportunity to visit two local research organizations. Firstly, the company Nafigate offered a presentation on their use of bacteria to break down biomass and produce usable, degradable bioplastics. Secondly, the AI Centre at the Czech Technical University presented some of their research. The two presentations together were very interesting and offered something relevant to all delegation members.
Finally, for our last symposium in Vienna, we worked with the company Brimatech to undertake the matchmaking, and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) as a funding counterpart. The Canadian Embassy in Vienna offered support for the symposium as well, both in terms of matchmaking and in terms of offering information and support to participating companies. We were very pleased with the turnout for a first symposium in a new country.
At the five symposia, the 15 Albertan companies that joined this year’s Matchmaking Mission to Europe, had the opportunity to meet with approximately 300 representatives from companies and research organisations predominantly, but also federal and provincial governments and agencies. The feedback we have received so far from the Alberta participants was exceedingly positive and we are very optimistic that the mission will result in several high-quality funding applications.