CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – November 30, 2011 – A recent survey on innovation has revealed that recruiting a qualified workforce, opening new markets and improving the quality of products are the three main economic challenges facing Atlantic Canadian businesses. These businesses also believe that lower workforce costs in Atlantic Canada, once considered a great competitive advantage, are losing much of their weight due to market globalization.
However, this survey, conducted last summer, also showed that at the technological level, the adoption of web sites among Atlantic businesses is widespread (83%) and the use of social media is also growing by leaps and bounds: 76% of establishments use Facebook and 46 % use LinkedIn for professional purposes.
These results, and many more, were revealed this morning at the Halifax campus of Université Sainte-Anne during a press conference that linked Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador via a videoconferencing system.
The Université, in partnership with the four Atlantic RDÉE, announced at the press conference that a major Atlantic Canadian forum will take place April 18-19, 2012, in Moncton, NB, as part of the Connect Atlantic joint project. This forum will feature various workshops and conferences conceived specifically to address the main priorities and challenges identified in the survey.
University president Allister Surette presented an overview of the project progress since its beginning in 2010. Surette shared his enthusiasm for a project of this magnitude and for the milestone announced this morning.
“This project will allow Acadian and Francophone businesses from the entire Atlantic Region to increase their competitiveness by developing collective strategic plans. It is a large-scale project for the region and Université Sainte-Anne is pleased to support such an initiative,” said Surette.
The survey enabled Yves Bourgeois, researcher at the Centre for Innovation and Productivity, to determine the current practices and challenges that businesses and organizations in the Atlantic Region face in terms of adopting new technologies, workforce training, research and development, innovation and marketing. More than 600 businesses answered the survey in Atlantic Canada.
“The results will be used to adjust regional initiatives and target more specifically actions that will increase productivity and business opportunities,” explained Bourgeois.
Project manager Francis Thériault kicked off the second component of the project, an Atlantic Forum taking place in Moncton next April. Thériault also unveiled the project’s web site, which will serve as an interactive platform for registration and programming.
“The forum is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and business people to acquire new skills, extend their knowledge and apply their know-how,” he explained.
A summary of pertinent provincial results was then presented in each province.
Martin Marcoux, chair of RDÉE PEI Board of Directors, presented a synopsis of the provincial results. According to the survey, PEI feels particularly at a disadvantage in terms of accessing markets. A majority of the respondents do not take full advantage of the wide range of web functionalities available to help them with their business. However, PEI establishments demonstrated good results in terms of using more advanced web-based technologies such as resources and inventory management (18%), online products demonstrations (21%) and the integration of client feedback (38%).
Connect Atlantic is an initiative of Université Sainte-Anne funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and implemented by the four Atlantic RDÉE under the direction of RDÉE PEI. The project, whose mission is to improve competitiveness and enrich Atlantic francophone businesses in knowledge economy, has three components: the business survey; the forum that will take place in Moncton; and the creation of practical tools for businesses and local stakeholders.
Visit www.connectatlantic.com for the latest news regarding the project.”
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