Chinese entrepreneurs scout local business opportunities
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.