Foreign Direct Investment Raises Hamilton’s International Profile

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July 26, 2016; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Announced by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, FedDev Ontario invests $11.96-million to McMaster University to establish a new facility called the Fraunhofer Project Center for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (BEAM). The centre will house the development of novel technologies for eye care, point-of-care medical devices and cancer treatments, creating an anchor facility for a new industry around biomedical manufacturing in Hamilton. Photo by Ron Scheffler for McMaster University.

The City of Hamilton’s ambitious foreign direct investment work is paying off in jobs, investment, and awards.

The City launched its FDI strategy in 2015, which focuses on raising Hamilton’s international profile and securing new investment in the target sectors of ICT and digital media, life sciences, agri-business and food processing, clean technology and advanced manufacturing.

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“It is an area into which we are pumping renewed focus, resources and energy and we know will pay off in jobs and tax growth,” said Glen Norton, director of economic development.

Hamilton is now a member of the Consider Canada Cities Alliance (CCCA), which unites 13 of Canada’s largest municipalities to lure global investment, and will be part of an upcoming delegation to Europe.

“Foreign investment is a key area of future economic growth for Hamilton. We are so favourably located in Canada and in Ontario and we offer many advantages. We are concentrating on getting that story out globally,” said Glen Norton, Director of Economic Development.

That will cap a year in which the City of Hamilton Economic Development Office was awarded the best foreign director investment strategy for a mid-sized North American city by fDi Magazine (a subsidiary of the Financial Times in London). It was also recognized as a Top 10 city for economic development overall and for connectivity and business friendliness.

“We are extremely proud of these awards and we think it shows we are
certainly doing the right things when it comes to foreign direct investment,” said Norton.

“We’ve been doing it all along but quietly. Now, it’s formalized and focused,” said Jennifer Patterson, senior business development officer for investment and trade.

“We are being very strategic about our international outreach.”

The City collaborates with McMaster University, Mohawk College, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton Port Authority, Hamilton International Airport, and Hamilton Chamber of Commerce in an Invest Hamilton partnership.

“We can’t do it all. We have to work together and take advantage of what everyone is doing to get Hamilton’s name out there in the world,” said Patterson.

The City is also part of networks, including the Ontario Food Cluster, the Ontario Manufacturing Communities Alliance and the Ontario Real Estate Investment Alliance, that allow municipalities to leverage pooled marketing resources into something much
greater than they could do individually, says Patterson.

In September, a Hamilton contingent went on a trade mission to Colombia, a key and growing opportunity nurtured in a partnership with Niagara Region. Patterson says at least a dozen companies in Colombia are exploring investing in Hamilton.

The McMaster-Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical and Advanced Manufacturing (BEAM) is a prime example of the results of a focused approach to foreign investment.

The centre is expected to move into its new home at McMaster Innovation Park in March but its work is already well underway, said BEAM director John Brennan.

“The building doesn’t exist yet but projects have been ongoing since 2014 and there has been a lot of value in learning the Fraunhofer approach. They are a world leader in commercializing university research.”

When Germany’s Fraunhofer, a network of 69 research institutes, considered 10 universities in Canada for a partnership, McMaster was the “best match” due to strengths in cell therapy, engineering, diagnostics, and clinical trials, said Brennan.

Brennan expects the Fraunhofer centre, and its 100 jobs, to draw future economic opportunity. Eight Canadian companies have projects ongoing and it’s expected German companies will incubate in BEAM, too. A university incubation hub to be located next door has just been announced.

“A lot of new skills will transfer to Hamilton,” said Brennan.

Another foreign investment success story is SUEZ Water Technologies and Solutions, a French-based international giant in water, wastewater, landfill and energy-from-waste solutions.

It acquired Anderson Water Systems, an Ancaster engineering company in 2000, expanding operations in 2015 and 2017 and now employing 80. In November, it officially opened a newly built ozone plant that will export products to 45 countries.

“Year after year, the development of the worldwide economy and the Canadian economy made it an easy decision to invest here,” said Cesare Angeretti, vice-president of operations. “There is an incredible cluster of water expertise and technology in this region.”

Read the full Perspective Hamilton 2017 feature here.