Pierre Gabriel Côté, CEO of Investissement Quebec, the investment arm of the Quebec government, is very passionate when he talks about the forest products industry.
It is true that Côté spent 20 years of his life in the same industry, and was born and raised in a region where forestry is a way of life. “Investissement Québec and I are still deeply attached to our forestry industry,” he said during a Keynote presentation at Paperweek 2019.
Investissement Québec also is passionate about the investment it makes in the country and all over the world: in 2017-2018, investment reached $2.1 billion in projects valued at a combined $9 billion. With 12 offices located across the globe, Investissement Quebec backed up seven projects outside Quebec worth $2.2 billion.
“2017-2018 marked a new record for us, with participation in 1.500 projects. Our return on investment rate was 5,3%. We invest in many projects, but we spend wisely, since we are working with taxpayers’ money.”
During the same period, Investissement Quebec helped fund 44 projects in the forest industry for a total value of $670M, consolidating 4000 jobs . “Cogeneration projects and energy efficiency in general generate a lot of interest. We are there through thick and thin, in good times and bad times. In fact, forest products remain in the top three industries we are generating value with, after aluminum.”
While today’s forest products industry may be at somewhat of a crossroads, the sector remains vibrant and strong, making major contributions to the reduction of our carbon footprint. “You have to take pride in the fact that you, as an industry, reduced your emissions by 70% over the last 30 years. During that period, pulp production has been fairly stable, thanks to the high quality of our fibre.” Driven by strong demand for paperboard and tissue paper, the forest certification rate in Quebec is the highest in Canada. “We do not deforest in Quebec, and our available biomass makes our industry 100% sustainable,” Côté affirmed.
Over the last three years, Investissement Québec has been on the road visiting regions and discussing with companies looking for support in starting, or maintaining a business. During that period alone, workshops were organized in all regions of Quebec and Investissement Québec discussed with over 3,000 entrepreneurs, influencing 700 projects for investment of up to $1 billion ($6 billion worth of projects). “We are there where investment is needed, especially when it comes to new technologies or what we call the 4.0 Economy projects. Industry 4.0 is a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.
Industry 4.0 fosters what has been called a "smart factory". Within modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time both internally and across organizational services offered and used by participants of the value chain.
Finally, Investissement Québec promises to remain a true partner of the industry and of regional economies. “We bring public investors to carry the financial burden early on. That is, and will remain, our role as we go through challenges like shortages of qualified workers and digitalization of information,” Côté concluded.