Montreal is the third largest aerospace cluster in the world, behind only Seattle and Toulouse in its ability to attract aerospace manufacturers and their associated supply chain. Montreal has Airbus, Bombardier, Bell, Pratt & Whitney Canada and CAE among the world class OEMs with a major presence.
What often goes unseen, however, are the efforts in Montreal to create a more robust supply chain through public-private partnerships and support from Federal, Provincial and local governments. The cluster offers a unique blend of investment support, including entities like Fonds de Solidarite, Investissment Quebec, and Montreal International, each of whom coordinates with the private investment sector to tailor unique offerings for companies considering Montreal.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Montreal cluster is the cooperation among and between parties. In aerospace, Montreal is almost like a small town, where everybody knows everybody else and one is quickly pointed in the direction of the right person to help.
Helping coordinate those efforts is AeroMontreal, a trade association that brings the industry and government together and offers specific initiatives to help local companies compete globally. AeroMontreal, which sponsors an week of seminars and events to help industry connect face to face each April, acts as a facilitator for innovation in the industry. Suzanne Benoit, who has headed the organization since its inception 12 years ago, acts as the matchmaker of a network of public and private resources that support the industry.
Montreal has grown into an attractive aerospace hub because Canada is a free trade country, and Montreal is a bridge between Europe and the United States. European companies find it easy to do business in Montreal, because it is closer to a European culture than any other major city in North America. It is also a bridge for US companies that want to export to Europe, but also remain close to their American operations.
Governments at the federal, provincial, and local level have all embraced aerospace and the associated technologies, have coordinated with Universities for R&D support, and enlist industry players to cooperate on joint R&D projects that benefit the entire industry.
Competing clusters can offer financial support that matches what Montreal can offer, but cannot match the close-knit infrastructural support that ensures global competitiveness. For a small aerospace company or start-up, Montreal provides the right kind of environment for success. A look at the participants in Aerospace week underscores that the mix of elements available in Montreal – talent, resources, and governmental support – results in a robust sector.