A look back at the France-Quebec Cross-Trade Forum

On November 5, 300 representatives of businesses from Quebec and France gathered to discuss best practices in business development and to expand their network of partners and potential clients on the other side of the Atlantic.

Speakers addressed a number of topics, drawing on different points of view and areas of expertise: establishing a presence in the local ecosystem, innovation, open labs inclusiveness, value creation, digital transformation, the electrification of transportation, fintech and artificial intelligence.

November 5, 2019
300 participants

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“Quebec and France share a rich heritage. That heritage is evidenced today in the strength and diversity of our cultural, academic, political and economic exchanges. In an international climate marked by trade tensions and the risk of an economic slowdown, we need to turn to our natural allies.”

– Guy Jobin
Vice-President, Business Services – Acclr
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

PART 1 | How to take root in the social fabric

Open labs and collaborative innovation

On why Michelin chose Montréal: “The first reason is people. You need to find people who want to help you change the world, to innovate, to be disrupters. That’s what you find in Montréal: an ecosystem of innovative people.”

– Erik Grab
VP, Strategic Anticipation, Innovation and Sustainable Development

Entrepreneurship and inclusion

“We conducted a study of 50,000 of our managers. It showed that mixed teams (each gender representing between 40% and 60%) were a lot more effective in a number of regards, including overall customer satisfaction.”

– Normand St-Gelais CCIP
Director of Corporate Responsibility (Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability & Stop Hunger Foundation)
Sodexo Canada Ltd.

The secrets to the success of 3 Brasseurs Canada and Foodiz Group establishing a presence in Canada

On the keys to success in Canada: “1) A corporate culture focused on people and trusting relationships formed based on the talent of our colleagues. 2) French in body, Quebec in soul: to succeed in Canada, you need to draw on local talent. We entrusted the company’s development to Montrealers. 3) The experience in Quebec versus Ontario: our experience in Ontario showed us the importance of thinking about our roots and leveraging our francophone identity by switching back to the French name 3 Brasseurs from 3 Brewers.”

– Laurens Defour

3 Brasseurs Canada

PART 2 | Creating value between subsidies and parent companies

Attracting investment in subsidiaries by parent companies: lessons from the aerospace industry

“The A220 is a completely different experience for us. It’s a Canadian product, created and manufactured in Quebec, destined for the world market, rather than the European market. This is the opposite of what we normally do when we make local products for sale on the local market.”

– Pierre Cardin
Senior Vice President, Head of Public Affairs
Airbus Canada

“Quebec doesn’t attract foreign companies with the cost of labour, but instead by focusing on the quality of labour, particularly in aerospace. There can be no further debate: Canada has always demonstrated innovation in the field, which is why it is recognized as an international power.”

– Sylvain Boisvert
General Manager
Safran Canada

PART 3 | Decoding the company of the future: challenges and opportunities of tomorrow

Digital transformation: how to adapt to an ever-changing world

On facilitating the digital transformation in organizations: “The best approach is to form an internal digital transformation committee, with members from all levels of the organization, who will act not only as ambassadors to employees, but also as agents of change for practices.”

– Bruno Demortière
Deputy CEO, Visiativ

Electrification: a strong trend in the transportation sector

On the electrification of transportation in Quebec: “We have enough electricity to meet any demand. If we set the goal of electrifying 100% of the vehicle fleet in Quebec, investments would be required, but it would be doable.”

– France Lampron
Director – Transportation

New technology driving the transformation of financial services

“These new technologies will inevitably disrupt the job market. A study by the World Economic Forum shows that 55% of the tasks performed today will not be the same by 2022 or 2023. Artificial intelligence results in the automation of tasks, skills changes, partnerships with universities, and more.”

– Thomas Gagné
M. Sc., CFA, FRM Director – Corporate Development Fintech Transformation and Project Office
Desjardins Group

Ethical challenges and opportunities in artificial intelligence

“All stages of medical case management – from diagnosis to prognosis, including treatment protocols – will soon be delivered by artificial intelligence. This evolution is inevitable. However, where AI can never replace people is in doctor interactions with patients, the heart-to-heart work.”

- Axel Kahn
National French League Against Cancer

Closing message

“My delegation was given the written, quantified mission to double trade between Quebec and France. Hearing local and French entrepreneurs talk today about trade is exactly what we are after. France has opened its doors to Quebec, and Quebec and French entrepreneurs should take advantage of that.”

– Michèle Boisvert
Delegate General of Québec in Paris


The France-Quebec Cross-Trade Forum was part of the 32nd Entretiens Jacques Cartier. The forum was jointly organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, the Entretiens Jacques Cartier and the Ville de Montréal. It was also presented by Desjardins.

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