By Yves Therrien, Special Collaboration
«Alone we go faster, together we go further.» This African proverb describes a key element of what we call collective intelligence.
This is what also describes the ACCORD approach, which is noted in the niches and poles of excellence at the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation: to bring together and mobilize business people in the economic sector, among others, to create new products or open new markets on a national or international level.
For results to appear, intelligence and knowledge must be pooled to advance towards a common goal. All this depends on the quality of interactions between its members, networking and partnerships in market development as well as research and innovation.
This is in line with the slogan of the ACCORD approach, which says, “act together to be competitive”, says Simon Chrétien, Executive Director of Alliance Polymères Québec.
The idea is that companies in the same industry and on the same territory join forces and combine their efforts to achieve the set objective.
The role of Alliance Polymères Québec as a niche of excellence is to be a catalyst to unite companies that have a common goal, he adds.
We accompany them in reaching their objective. In addition, we have access to financial leverage with a support program that allows us to finance 50% of project costs, up to $500,000 per year per project. In some cases, it is possible to combine financial assistance from other departments to reach a maximum of 70% of public contributions.
The advantage of working as a team reduces technological uncertainty and risk.
With two, three or five companies on a project, with 50% public funding, the risk is much lower for each partner, says Mr. Chrétien. If five companies each put in $1 and the grant is $5, the initial $1 becomes $10 in the project. The leverage becomes greater, which is why it’s interesting to work together.
Polymer Alliance Quebec
In addition to the innovation project or the development of a new product, there is also the collaboration for the marketing of a product. An entrepreneur who can’t convince a large customer alone.
With two or three people, companies can go after the contract. Each one does part of the work, whether it’s the design, the mould or the shaping of the polymer to make the part or part of the part, for example, for an integrated offer and the ability to deliver a large volume within the prescribed timeframe. The advantage of working together is that we are much stronger, continues Mr. Chrétien.
When it comes to partner support, Alliance Polymères Québec can help ensure that the right partners work together, each in its own specialty, and have the resources needed to move forward together.
For example, three companies with distinct characteristics and strengths could work together to develop an innovative product that would have a global impact, whereas a single company could not easily achieve this, adds Mr. Chrétien.
Often, entrepreneurs in the same territory mistakenly believe that they are the only ones who can produce this or that, or market this or that product, when the competition is international, and Quebec and Canada are very small markets in a world where globalization is driven by giants like China.
Our mission, as a cluster, is to get companies to work together to be stronger, to be at the forefront of the wave, both on the local and international markets, says Mr. Chrétien. Whether it’s to create new products, or even to improve factory work such as developing robotization or automatons well adapted to the tasks and needs of the industry, collaboration is effective. With several people, it would be less expensive to develop a robot and a program to replace manual tasks that take a lot of time for the workers and even to do programming or maintenance.
Moreover, in the competitive world of the automotive industry, there are many partnerships between manufacturers. Some will develop an engine that serves two different brands, as Dodge and Volkswagen, Ford and Mazda have done, or adaptive platforms for vehicles like Kia and Hyundai, or Ford and Volkswagen with a van and a pickup truck.
There are many partnerships for electric vehicles, for example General Motors will produce two electric vehicles for Honda in the United States. Not to mention the unlikely alliances between carmakers and the fashion world for the interior trim of luxury vehicles.
In the end, both companies are building on each other’s strengths to break into new markets or to ensure that they are at the forefront of the wave for the next few years.