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First Canadian trade mission “just the beginning”

March 4, 2021

Around 100 businesses from the Portsmouth area and Nova Scotia, Canada, attended a free mission last week that detailed a new investment, trade and educational relationship between Portsmouth and Halifax, our potential ‘sister’ city in Canada.

The event saw a variety of businesses and entrepreneurs attending to find out more about the links between Portsmouth and Halifax and how they can be involved. The UK already has a roll over trade deal in place with Canada, with the government planning to sign an even more ambitious trade deal in 2021.

The University of Portsmouth spoke about their world-leading plastic enzyme recycling research project and Dalhousie University showcased their world-leading work in machine learning for the ocean economy.

Participants also heard from the naval base commanders of the Navy in both cities as well as BAE systems about how Portsmouth and Halifax bases already work closely as well as cutting edge developments in in de-carbonisation, digitalisation and autonomous systems.

Delegates also learnt about the important role of creative and cultural industries in Portsmouth, as well as Halifax’s creation of an Innovation district.

There were four themed business to business networking events covering:

  • Green growth and renewable energy
  • Marine and Maritime
  • Aerospace, engineering and manufacturing
  • Digital and creative/cultural

Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: “This event was just the beginning for our new relationship with Halifax. It was a fantastic first step into a relationship that is full of promise. We know we have businesses and educational institutions in Portsmouth with loads to offer on the world’s stage, and we were so pleased to be able to make that happen. It’s inspiring to hear about connections that have already been made as a result of the event.

“In challenging global times it’s more important than ever to look to the future for ways we can help Portsmouth and the Solent to thrive. I’m excited to solidify our relationship with Halifax by bringing together some of the top business and education leaders in both cities and look at how we can work together to boost our economy and our reputation internationally.”

Naval Base Commander, Commodore JJ Bailey ADC, said: “We share much in common with CFB Halifax and there is much we can learn from each other such as our journey to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Together we can work to realise the right type of Bases to support exciting new Naval Capabilities, achieve operational outputs and address new demands such as a net-zero carbon footprint.  This will include how we build the right partnerships with industrial colleagues to meet these challenges.  As one of our closest NATO allies we value our relationship with Halifax and regularly welcome their warships here; I was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss common ground with Captain Williams during this virtual mission and help forge even closer ties between our two cities.”

Chris Chang, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement and Education Partnerships) at University of Portsmouth said: “We’re excited about the potential new opportunities between the two cities, which will allow us to champion Portsmouth’s unique strengths and heritage to the world as part of our role as a global university. This will offer opportunities for our staff and students to engage with their counterparts in Halifax, which will enrich their own personal development and learning.

“We also hope to establish international research collaborations that address key global issues, particularly around our pioneering enzyme research that has the potential to solve the world’s plastic pollution problem.”

The event was led by the Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, and the Mayor of Halifax Mike Savage, talking about what their two great cities offer.

Portsmouth and Halifax, in Nova Scotia, have a lot in common. They are both great naval cities with major ports and dynamic marine and maritime sectors. They are also both home to top Universities and both have shared goals in terms of creativity, innovation and zero-carbon futures.

Businesses, education providers and entrepreneurs interested in taking part in future events can contact to be added to the invitation list.

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