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NB Sees Start of Innovation Revolution - Commentary

October 26, 2015

By David Chaundy
APEC Senior Economist

There’s a revolution of sorts happening in Atlantic Canada.

Working quietly in offices and labs in the region’s towns and cities, there is a cadre of entrepreneurs diligently plotting the disruption of “the way business is done.”

Armed with drones, sensor arrays, and a willingness to assess terabytes of data, these business leaders  embrace innovation and new technologies, striving to bringing their Atlantic Canadian operations to the forefront of the nation’s commerce.

Peter Goggin, CEO of Resson Aerospace in Fredericton is one of the business leaders. He focuses on using robotics and technology tools to disrupt one of the most traditional of industries: agriculture.

Over the next five year, data analytic will be huge and he’s positioning himself to use informatics to work with the largest players in North America , showing them how to get the greatest value out of their crops. He’s had the luxury of “cutting his teeth” with french fry giant McCain, but even his mid-term vision goes way beyond Atlantic Canada.

“You have to go after the big fish. If you want to build a world class business, you have to go to the world. You have to be in the boardrooms in Calgary or California.”

Kumuran Thillainadararajah, CEO Smart Skin Technologies, also of Fredericton, is another disruption collaborator. With more than $6 million raised in two offering, the 2015 New Brunswick Emerging Exporter of the Year Award winner is seeking the reform of the beer and soft drink manufacturing industry.

As the creator and commercializer of pressure sensing and mapping technology, he asserts the company can provide real-time analysis of activity, on a variety of packaging lines, supporting performance, improving efficiency, reducing waste, and minimizing downtime.

Smart Skin’s systems are already operational in 40 plants, but within five years that number will climb to 1500. While leveraging technology will be key to the success, Thillainadararajah, insists his focus on building a world-class operation is of paramount importance.

“You are competing against the world. It is not enough to think about being the best in New Brunswick for Atlantic Canada. You have to go global and meet your competitors on the world stage,” he says.

With the business and financial assistance from both the New Brunswick government and key regional supporters, the cadre is growing. A hub of businesses focused on machine-to-machine connections and services is developing across the province.

Research on global value chains and Atlantic manufacturers conducted by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) highlights the need for export -oriented companies to position their products to provide new solutions for the global marketplace.

For the revolution to spread Gogan, Thillainadararajah and others believe successes must be shared and a culture of innovation fostered, not only within companies, but within schools and governments.

The Atlantic Province Economic Council will tackle the question of technology-enabled success and the fostering a culture of innovation during its Outlook conference November 5 in Saint John. Details of the conference are available at www.outlookconference.ca. Frank McKenna will be offering the keynote address.

This commentary first appeared in the Telegraph Journal on October 14, 2015

Related Commentary  The Future is here  The Guardian

                                  Business smarts in 2015 = emulating tech-savvy firms The Chronicle Herald

 

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October 26, 2015

NB Sees Start of Innovation Revolution - Commentary

 

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