Canada is upbeat [CANSEC17D1]

31 May 2017

As Canada’s foremost defence and security showcase opens its doors for the 20th time, Christyn Cianfarani, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), is upbeat.

CANSEC offers the ideal platform to showcase the cutting-edge Canadian technology, products and services for land-based, naval and aerospace applications at the heart of CADSI’s ‘Made Across Canada’ Campaign. And it’s on the up! “CANSEC is sold out for 2017, so it’s tough to outdo our numbers each year. In fact, our focus is quality over quantity. We want our exhibitors to get the maximum number of empowered buyers visiting their booths.

“That said, we’ve been able to ‘reboot’ the show floor a little bit and this year we have over 30 first-time exhibitors, which makes us very happy. Almost all of them are small and medium-sized businesses, which might never get the opportunity to have VIPs get a look at their technologies.

“On Monday morning we were treated to our very first helicopter landing at the show – the Canadian Coast Guard’s brand new B412 helicopter. Not only do we have cool technologies coming out of the sky like helicopters and drones, we’ve built on last year’s unmanned theme and are showing technologies moving about under the sea. From underwater remotely piloted vehicles to new sonar systems, we’ve got it on the show floor.

“Another popular theme this year is shelter systems. Canada is a world leader. We manufacture everything from traditional shelters for humanitarian and peace operations, to shelters that can withstand high-velocity winds in the Arctic, to this year’s showcase: self-deployable and armour-protected shelters.”

CANSEC has clear value, not only as a vehicle for introducing CADSI innovation, technologies and services in the global defence marketplace, but ultimately in its contribution to the Canadian economy, says Cianfarani.

“While companies do not share with us the monetary amount of the business leads they generate from CANSEC both from a domestic sales perspective and export perspective, our members value their approval of CANSEC as a business development support activity with a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. That certainly tells us something. Add to that the fact that 60 per cent of the Canadian defence industry’s revenues come from exports in a highly protected international market, and it tells us that CANSEC and its international foreign delegation programme is an absolutely integral part of our industry’s ability to do business abroad.

“The defence industry is not only an economic contributor to Canada – with some 63,000 people working in the sector contributing high-wage (60 per cent higher than the average manufacturing wage in Canada), high-technology activities – it is also innovation-intense and, we believe, under-utilised as a strategic pillar to advance the country’s technological interests. In Canada we have recently started a new conversation on how to break out of our innovation rut’ and one of those ways is through strategic procurement.”

“Defence acquisitions constitute about one third of total federal procurement spending, or about $6 billion per year. Given that our industry is pan-Canadian in its reach, has a solid foundation based on several key industrial capabilities, the Canadian Armed Forces are in the midst of a historically large recapitalisation, and the government has several policy tools to drive innovation in the defence sector, it is the obvious place to test the concept of strategic procurement and increase our contribution to the Canadian economy.”

With the Canadian Department of National Defence now planning to bolster its cyber-warfare capabilities, cyber is a prospective growth area in the CANSEC focus.

“We’re looking to increase participation in CANSEC for leading-edge cyber defence rms.

It’s one of the reasons why we invited US Army General Keith Alexander (Retired) to speak to us this year about his experiences as Director of the National Security Agency/Chief of the Central Security Service (CSS) and first Commander to lead the US Cyber Command. We’re also working on an advocacy agenda that includes major Government of Canada stakeholders and identities resident Canadian capability operating in the cyber defence space.” Challenges in the future? It’s all about underpinning the CADSI relationship, says Cianfarani.

“Our focus is always on keeping our members engaged and happy, whether that be through our advocacy platform, the quality of our events or our value-added services. e most important challenge that we face is for our members to believe that placing some of their hard-earned revenue in CADSI gives them a good return on investment. If we can do this, we’ve got the recipe right.”

(750 words)