Offering innovative products or services can help Canadian companies find success in a variety of global markets, says Todd Winterhalt, vice-president, International Business Development, Export Development Canada (EDC).
"When you have a traditional product or service, generally speaking your market is more limited," he explains. "If you're offering something more innovative and creative, then you have more markets available."
Well over 60 per cent of first-time Canadian exporters choose to go to the U.S., says Mr. Winterhalt. Less than 20 per cent aim for a different but more developed market and an even smaller percentage of companies consider an emerging market that might offer lots of opportunity but also carries a higher risk, according to data from EDC, Canada's export credit agency dedicated to helping companies respond to international business opportunities.
|“If you’re offering something more innovative and creative, then you have more markets available.”|
|Todd Winterhalt is vice-president, International Business Development, Export Development Canada|
"The differentiator for companies that are going global is that they tend to have invested more in their product or process," says Mr. Winterhalt. "For companies that are more innovative, it's less daunting to go right away to an international market – they can see their product succeed just about anywhere."
To be successful outside the domestic market, companies have to be more competitive, innovative and efficient, he explains. "You're competing against a broader grouping of companies. Those who are more successful tend to bring something else to the game, for example a new application or technology that is attractive for a foreign buyer."
Mr. Winterhalt has seen companies go directly to emerging markets with products or services that he calls "niche or disruptive.
"We see a lot of this happen in what would be considered non-traditional sectors of the Canadian economy," he says. "For example, there is a great deal of appetite for Canadian technologies in biotech, life sciences and the cleantech space."
While innovation can increase market potential, Mr. Winterhalt adds that company culture also influences decisions on whether or where to pursue export opportunities. "If you are willing to take the risk to invest more heavily in innovation, generally speaking, you may be more open to other risks as well, such as trying another market."
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