Chi­nese en­trepreneurs scout lo­cal busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties

Ottawa Business Journal - - TRADE - BY CRAIG LORD

Sev­eral Chi­nese bil­lion­aires were in Ot­tawa ear­lier this month, meet­ing with the city’s busi­ness lead­ers and ey­ing in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

Del­e­gates from the China En­tre­pre­neur Club, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that in­cludes 31 of the Asian coun­try’s lead­ing en­trepreneurs, diplo­mats and econ­o­mists, stopped in Ot­tawa on Oct. 18 dur­ing a cross-coun­try tour of Canada.

Lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials and Ot­tawa en­trepreneurs pitched sev­eral lo­cal com­pa­nies and made-in-Ot­tawa in­no­va­tions to del­e­gates of the club, whose mem­bers col­lec­tively bring in US$460 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enues.

Pre­sen­ters in­cluded Spar­tan Bioscience founder and CEO Paul Lem and L-Spark’s Leo Lax, who po­si­tioned Ot­tawa as an in­no­va­tion hub.

“Here in Ot­tawa, we have a rich num­ber of or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies that are cre­at­ing new in­no­va­tions on a daily ba­sis,” Mr. Lax told the crowd, of­fer­ing L-Spark grad Bet­ter Soft­ware as an ex­am­ple of a lo­cal suc­cess story.

Mr. Lem pitched di­rectly to the Chi­nese crowd, sug­gest­ing that his com­pany’s DNA di­ag­nos­tic tech­nol­ogy could pave the way to elim­i­nat­ing deaths from stom­ach can­cer in China, the dis­ease ranking among the high­est causes of death in the coun­try in 2015.

“Imag­ine the mar­ket that’s avail­able there,” he told the crowd.

Chi­nese del­e­gates in the room were ea­ger to form con­nec­tions. Upon hear­ing Mr. Lem’s ideas, China-Eq­uity Group chair­man Wang Chaoy­ong sug­gested the name of a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pany do­ing sim­i­lar work in DNA se­quenc­ing that he could con­nect to Mr. Lem.

Af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tions con­cluded, T&T Su­per­mar­kets founder Jack Lee gave an im­pas­sioned mul­ti­lin­gual speech on the great mar­ket he sees in Ot­tawa, call­ing the city a “top per­former” for his com­pany, Canada’s largest chain of Asian su­per­mar­kets.

In­vest Ot­tawa man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of in­vest­ment and trade Blair Pat­a­cairk, the agency’s host for the event, ex­plained to OBJ why Ot­tawa is so at­trac­tive for Chi­nese busi­nesses.

“It’s by no co­in­ci­dence that peo­ple like Huawei came into this mar­ket for tal­ent,” he said, re­fer­ring to the tech­nol­ogy ex­per­tise birthed from the boom­ing days of Nor­tel and the tele­com in­dus­try as well as the re­search and de­vel­op­ment that con­tin­ues in Ot­tawa today.

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