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Two WestJet planes sit on the tarmac at the Calgary Airport on Aug. 24, 2001. (Jeff McIntosh)
Two WestJet planes sit on the tarmac at the Calgary Airport on Aug. 24, 2001. (Jeff McIntosh)

Small Business Briefing

A burst of innovation on the Calgary tarmac Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Clean energy boosts bottom line

Richmond, B.C.-based Corvus Energy has announced that WestJet is the first airline in the world to implement its new technology, a baggage tug powered by rechargeable lithium polymer batteries.

"The tug," a press release states, "which resembles a small tractor, pulls baggage carts to and from the aircraft." WestJet showcased the innovation at an event in Calgary on Sunday.

Corvus claims its battery packs have a power punch that's comparable to diesel engines in hybrid and fully electric vehicles. A story in the Vancouver Sun points out the lithium battery-powered baggage tractor in use by WestJet has been tested at Calgary airport since October and successfully performed in frigid temperatures.

Corvus president and CEO Brent Perry told the newspaper the payback, which will come in the form of savings on fuel costs, is estimated at two years. "That means the project already makes financial sense before you consider the environmental benefits," the story reads.

In a background paper, Corvus says baggage handling machinery technology dates back to the 1960s. Emission controls are non-existent on most ground support equipment at airports, it adds, "degrading conditions for airport staff, and passengers and add(ing) significantly to the total environmental footprint of the airport."

Corvus has had expressions of interest from across North America, and Mr. Perry expects the company to do $3 million in sales this year on the new equipment. Its website states that Corvus Energy also has extensive experience in marine design and power-train development.

Ten tips on conducting business in China

Never underestimate the importance of existing connections. To protect your intellectual property, use the same due diligence you would in the West. Never pressure your Asian colleagues for a decision. These are the top three of 10 tips on doing business in China from Mia Doucet, author of China in Motion, which were prepared for CanadExport to help Canadian companies avoid costly mistakes. "The ability to navigate cross-cultural issues," the post says, "is just as important as the goods and services you bring to the marketplace."

You see what you eat

Berlin-based entrepreneur Dennis Buchmann launched a project in November called MeineKleineFarm (My Little Farm), to inspire people to give more thought to the meat they eat. His website features photos of pigs in the fields of Bernd Schulz, the farmer he works with, and customers can "get to know the pig that ultimately lands on their plate," reads this story from DW.de. Mr. Buchmann, who says he wants to know the animals he eats have had a good life, also works at the BetterPlace lab, a think-tank that examines how digital technologies can be used in the social sector. Some people, he argues, might find his approach disturbing. But, he adds, that's the point. "If you cannot look the fact in the face that animals have to be killed for meat, then you need to become vegetarian."

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Small Business Summit in Calgary this week

The Globe and Mail presents its latest Small Business Summit at Hotel Arts in Calgary on April 25, with a pair of keynotes, several panel discussions, and networking breakouts designed to help companies at every stage of entrepreneurship: start, grow or exit. The day-long event kicks off with a speech from serial entrepreneur Jennifer McNeill, and wraps with a presentation from W. Brett Wilson. Click here for the full schedule, and here to be taken to the registration page.

Webinar designed to accelerate your growth

Tom Searcy, the founder and CEO of Hunt Big Sales, is hosting a webinar on May 17 focused on three steps for accelerating your company’s growth. Mr. Searcy will also cover where you are on the ladder of growth, which natural growing pains to expect, and the dos and don'ts for doubling your business. Reserve a complimentary seat for the session, which starts at 10 a.m. PT.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

The small business succession crisis

“There is an ocean full of entrepreneurs who have aged and are becoming exhausted by years of economic malaise,” says Tom Deans, a Toronto-based speaker and author of Every Family's Business. “It’s been a sobering if not depressing time for business owners who would like to ease back but have had their investments outside of their business eroded, and more importantly the equity in their business has eroded.” And as this story points out, it's a global phenomenon.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

More on the C100 expansion

The C100, which focuses on mentorship, partnership and investment to assist in the growth of a new generation of successful Canadian-led technology companies, has officially announced the opening of its latest outpost in London. In this article from December, 2011, reporter D'Arcy Doran got a sneak peek.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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