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Atlantic Canada Defence Networking Event Heralds a Bright Future for the Atlantic Provinces

The defence industry in Halifax gathered with local post-secondary institutions to build the connections that will drive tomorrow’s Atlantic Canada forward. At a low-key event held at Volta, a partly government-funded coworking space in Halifax’s downtown, a crowd of about 80 sat during over a dozen presentations, punctuated by networking breaks. By the time the event had wrapped up, the room was buzzing with optimism about the future of the region.

The event was co-hosted by the Atlantic Canada Aerospace and Defence Association (ACADA) and Springboard Atlantic. In addition to regional companies and industry non-profits, presentations included six institutions: Dalhousie University, STFX University, Acadia University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia Community College.

Between presentations the crowd mixed with networking breaks, as collaborations were built that could drive the future of the region. The charming staff at Volta, and the beautiful new space since Volta moved offices in the last year, were part of Atlantic Canada showing its best face to the rest of the country and to the world.

CDR had the chance to speak with Patrick Keyes, Director of Business Development at ADGA.

According to the ADGA website: “Since it was founded in Ottawa in 1967, ADGA has been a proud provider of technology solutions and expertise to the Canadian government, Canadian Armed Forces, and other organizations in the public and private sector.”

“We’re based out of Ottawa and we’re expanding into Atlantic Canada,” Keyes told CDR. “Coming here and seeing the innovative solutions and meeting the innovative new young companies is very inspiring.”

“That’s what we’re really excited about,” Keyes told CDR, adding, “the innovation that’s happening in Atlantic Canada… inspires defence companies such as ADGA to enable and become part of that growth in the Maritimes.”

 Keyes told CDR the event went “fantastic.”

“It gives you a chance to connect with a lot of companies we wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet,” Keyes said, at that point in a room crowded with companies meeting each other and exchanging business cards.

Keyes confirmed ADGA will have a booth at DEFSEC, which is being held in Halifax in October as it is every year.

Other familiar faces from DEFSEC and other events around town in attendance included people present from Modest Tree, RaceRocks, PureLogic, IMP, Rosborough Boats, and the Quebec trade commissioner’s office, plus the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) whose generous funding of such programs and events has made the region the place it is today and given opportunities to young people in the region. Other presenters included the Black Arcs, SeafarerAI and Datifex.

Jennifer LaPlante, Chief Growth and Investment Officer from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, was the keynote speaker of the event.

“Atlantic Canada is fortunate to have a collaborative ecosystem,” LaPlante told CDR. “Those looking for investment, partnership or other support should reach out and ask for help from the ecosystem; there are countless catalysts for your venture needs such as COVE, The PIER, Volta, Venn. I spoke with a company who traveled from Western Canada to attend the event. They were impressed by the supportive and uplifting community in Atlantic Canada. People help each other.”

The event was able to retain its audience for the whole afternoon and there were few empty seats, as many speakers lingered to discuss networking opportunities.

CDR also spoke with Victoria Belbin, CEO of ACADA.

“We are so pleased with the incredible turn out for the annual Connector event,” Belbin told CDR. “The high engagement from industry and academia shows the importance of the themes: AI, Cyber Resilience, Remotely Piloted Systems and Autonomous Technologies.”

“Here in Atlantic Canada, there is so much potential to grow our capabilities in these areas,” Belbin added. “Participation in events such as the Connector provides the opportunity for industry and academia to build collaborative relationships. Over the years, we have numerous success stories supporting this model.”

“ACADA’s partnership with Springboard is critical for bringing industry and academia together to strengthen R&D and foster innovation in the A&D industry within the Atlantic Region.”

The event was also a good one for SWAG, as PureLogic was giving out various items at its table including gloves, warm hats, and fidget spinners, a new trend in Neurodiversity-affirming work play tools. A company known for being ‘cool,’ PureLogic had its staff at DEFSEC in 2023 wear matching suit blazers with a pattern from the video game Pac-Man.

 

By Jay Heisler

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