General Rick Hillier (retired), chancellor of Memorial University, was among a contingent from Memorial in Abu Dhabi last week for the announcement of a $370 million contract between Provincial Aerospace Limited (PAL) and the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Chancellor Hillier was on hand to represent the Faculty of Business Administration’s Gateway initiative.
For more than three years, Gateway has been connecting Newfoundland and Labrador companies with investors and strategic partners in the Middle East. It is uniquely positioned to drive growth in Atlantic Canada’s technology industry through its partners, the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training and the Higher Colleges of Technology, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Gateway’s expertise has been providing support to PAL in their work in the United Arab Emirates.
Brian Chafe, chief operating officer of PAL, credits Gateway with providing essential support in the lead up to the deal. “We turned to Gateway to help us develop the right approach to doing business in the UAE. Their understanding of the culture and business practices helped us in the critical early stages of developing this deal,” he said. “Gateway and its network in the UAE is an invaluable resource to companies like ours.”
Daryl Genge, the director of Gateway, hopes that the success of PAL will open the doors for many other Atlantic Canadian companies in the lucrative UAE market. “There are countless opportunities in the UAE for Canadian firms, and PAL’s success is a great example of this,” he said. “The UAE will continue to be an economic powerhouse and interested companies need to be prepared to work in a business environment that is quite different than North America.” Gateway, Mr. Genge maintained, is poised to help companies in Atlantic Canada plan strategically for expansion into the region.
The $370 million contract, which will create more than 100 new jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, was announced at IDEX 2009, the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi. Gateway partnered with eight Atlantic Canadian companies to participate in the conference in the hopes of increasing their opportunities and building connections in the region. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), which has been an essential component of Gateway since its inception, was in Abu Dhabi to provide support on the ground to Gateway companies. ACOA co-led this mission to IDEX 2009 and provided financial assistance. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is also a major partner in Gateway.