Ontario trade mission to India wraps up: High tech business plans Kitchener expansion

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By Robin MacLennan and Mark Buckshon

Ontario Construction News staff writers

Ontario government officials and 12 business representatives from key infrastructure and technology sectors wrapped up a trade and investment mission in India last week. One of the announcements resulting from the mission: Indian high-tech company VVDN Technologies said it will set up in Kitchener, creating 200 engineering jobs there.

Infrastructure delegates met with Indian businesses to explore opportunities for future partnership to meet India’s needs. India has announced it will invest US $1.5 trillion in various infrastructure projects including highways, railways, ports, airports, renewable energy, smart cities and transportation builds over the next five years.

India stands to benefit from Ontario’s internationally recognized construction technology and design that meet world-class performance and quality standards, a government statement said.

Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade led the five-day trip.

“Our plan to build Ontario means being open for business, open for jobs and open for trade to create new investment and good jobs,” Fedeli said in a news release.

“This message was well received by government and business partners alike who share in our ambition to increase economic growth through greater trade and investment. The Ontario businesses who joined us on this mission demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt why Ontario products, services and innovations have the reputation of being world-class.”

Results of the mission include:

  • After months of engagement with the province, VVDN Technologies announced their new facility in the Kitchener-Waterloo area that will create 200-plus engineering jobs.
  • Seneca College signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Thakur Institute of Management Studies and Research (TIMSR), the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), GD Goenka University and the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) businesses met with representatives of the State of Karnataka — India’s leader in information technologies — to advance a formal partnership that would provide Ontario with a competitive advantage to access this market and develop opportunities for increased trade, investment and partnership.

Fedeli also participated in the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber’s annual conference in New Delhi and a Canada-India Business Council discussion in Mumbai on “Positioning Canada’s Regional Strengths.” The discussion highlighted the government’s commitment to developing new business ties and exploring new opportunities for greater trade and investment between Ontario and India.

“Through this mission we worked directly with Ontario businesses to expand their reach into India, a high priority market,” parliamentary assistant Nina Tangri said in a news release. “Our efforts to create a climate for economic growth in Ontario positions us on the world stage as a premier destination to do business and invest.”

Two-way trade between Ontario and India is worth $3.2 billion — nine per cent of Canadian exports to India are from Ontario.

Ontario’s construction sector GDP totaled $50.7 billion in 2018, accounting for seven per cent of Ontario’s GDP.

Approximately 20 Ontario companies currently have operations in India, while more than 50 Indian companies across all sectors have operations and investments in Ontario.

For the Kitchener initiative, CBC reports that VVDN Technologies manufaturers products including artificial intelligence cameras, computer networks and and wifi access points. The company also designs products for voice, video, data and network electronics. VVDN is an acronym for “voice, video, data, network”.

The company’s announcement didn’t include an exact production facility location, nor the time the business will move to the  Waterloo region.

Waterloo Economic Development Corporation (EDC) CEO Tony LaMantia told the broadcaster that VVDN’s decision to move to Kitchener is a fortunate surprise that “magically happened because of some early touches from our team.”

Waterloo EDC representatives connected with the company in 2018 during a trip to New Delhi. “Very clearly they were interested in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor,” LaMantia was quoted as saying.

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