Global demand for solar power is on the rise, creating new opportunities for Canadian companies as domestic policies and market demands shift. While exporting is an attractive activity for growth-oriented companies, the process comes with new challenges – including but not limited to financing, network access, and market and cultural knowledge that impact success.
This is where the Trade Commissioner Service of Canada (TCS) can help. According to the TCS, companies that work with them throughout their global expansion export 20 per cent more and access 25 per cent more markets than those that don’t.
We spoke with Ian Williams, Trade Commissioner responsible for Renewable Energy at Global Affairs Canada for a two-part blog series to learn how the Trade Commissioner Service can support solar companies to grow globally and what opportunities exist for Canadian solar companies abroad.
If you’re already familiar with the TCS and how it can support your company’s growth, read Part Two of this series to learn what markets your company should consider exploring.
Learn more by attending the TCS session, “Developing New Export Opportunities for Canadian SMEs” at Solar Canada Conference on May 8.
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What is the Trade Commissioner Service?
Ian Williams (TCS): The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) is a network of over 1300 trade professionals in 161 cities worldwide with hands-on knowledge of international markets and a broad network of global business contacts.
What does a Trade Commissioner do?
Ian Williams (TCS): We support Canadian firms throughout their export journey. The TCS helps businesses expand to global markets while reducing risks. Through the TCS Canadian companies can: gain market insights, find new opportunities, connect with key contacts and resolve business problems.
What programs are available through the TCS to support Canadian solar companies?
Ian Williams (TCS): The TCS offers a suite of funding programs designed to help Canadian businesses expand their international footprint. The program we will highlight at Solar Canada is CanExport, which provides direct financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to help them develop new export opportunities and markets, especially high-growth emerging markets. CanExport reimburses up to 50 per cent of eligible expenses but requires that applicants match funds on a one-to-one basis.
What types of solar companies are eligible for the program?
Ian Williams (TCS): To be eligible, companies must be for-profit with no more than 500 full-time equivalent employees and between $100,000 and $100 million in annual revenue.
What can the financial assistance be used for?
Ian Williams (TCS): Activities to promote international business development, including business travel; participation at trade fairs; market research; adaptation of marketing tools for a new market; and legal fees associated with a distribution or representation agreement. For more information including the application guide and frequently asked questions, visit the CanExport website.
What Canadian success stories will you be sharing at the conference?
At the TCS session, “Developing New Export Opportunities for Canadian SMEs”, you will hear from two experienced Trade Commissioners. Taraneh Bayat-Mokhtari will tell you more about our CanExport program and Lauren MacLennan, your regional connection into the TCS network, will interview two local SMEs for an honest discussion on how to best leverage the TCS and CanExport funding to succeed in new international markets.
What are you most looking forward to at Solar Canada?
Ian Williams (TCS): My team and I look forward to meeting companies that are not TCS clients. It is important for us to get the word out about what we can do for them. Secondly, I look forward to educating Canadian SMEs on our CanExport program. Third, I’m looking forward to learning more about Canadian capabilities, what markets firms are interested or active in, what barriers they are facing, the successes they’ve had, and how we can help them succeed in new markets.
Read to Start Your Global Export Journey?
Read Part Two of this blog series to learn what global markets present the most significant opportunities for Canadian solar companies.
Learn more about the CanExport Program
The Trade Commissioner Service will be onsite at Solar Canada Conference to share information and answer your questions about the CanExport Program. Join them on May 8, 2.10-2.40 pm in Exposition Hall D. Learn more here.
Looking for more solar insights?
Provincial governments and consumers are focusing more on renewable energy to lower greenhouse gases and utilize more affordable sources of energy. This has created a tremendous opportunity for companies to expand their market presence in Canada. Solar Canada Conference & Exposition 2019 will provide an excellent platform to connect with industry professionals and enter this growing market. Join us on May 8-9, 2019 at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Register today.