Ontario Business Mission to India:
Mumbai: The Economic Heart of India
We’ve arrived in Mumbai, also known as Bombay, the most populous city in India. Despite occupying only two times the amount of land as Mississauga, Mumbai has over 20 times the population (800,000 in Mississauga compared to over 20 million in Mumbai). Mumbai is the financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India. Many of India’s numerous conglomerates and five of the Fortune 500 Global Companies are based in Mumbai, two of which I had the opportunity to meet with personally. Our day in Mumbai was one of the most productive days on this mission. Mumbai is electric – it is a hub of innovation, the energy is infectious and the level of influence of the wealthiest investors is apparent.
We kicked off the morning with an early breakfast meeting with Mr. Ameet Nivsarkar, Vice President, Corporate Affairs at TATA Consultancy Services (TCS). Established in 1968, TCS is a global leader in Information Technology Services (IT), digital and business solutions. Most recently, TCS was rated the world’s most powerful brand in IT services by a leading global brand valuation firm, Brand Finance. The 2016 annual report evaluated thousands of the world’s top brands in an effort to identify the worlds most powerful and valuable companies. TCS received strong scores in a number of areas including, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation, earning a score of 78.3 points which translates into a AA+ rating. It has emerged as the fastest growing brand within the IT industry over the last six years with an overall brand value of $9.4 billion in 2016, an increase of over $7 billion since 2010. I am so proud that two of TATA’s subsidiaries, Jaguar Land Rover Canada ULC (Tata Motors) and Tata Consultancy Services are based in the City of Mississauga.
Mr. Nivsarkar and I spoke in depth about the challenges and opportunities facing IT companies in Canada, Ontario, the GTA and of course Mississauga. Given that they have a footprint in our city, I was eager to learn more about their experience in Mississauga, whether or not we were meeting their needs and if there were additional opportunities for us to support their growth. A major concern was finding enough talent to support their rapid expansion. In 2015, TCS hired over 55,000 people worldwide and of that, 500 people came from Canada. In total, there are 2.5 thousand TCS employees in Ontario. Despite these impressive numbers and the demand for IT workers, there are shortages in talent and not enough students are graduating with computer related degrees. To help address this, TCS launched their goIT – Student Technology Awareness Program to engage middle school and high school students and encourage them to pursue careers in computer programming. Mississauga’s Microsoft office has also identified similar concerns and has launched a number of initiatives as part of their YouthSpark initiative, including DigiGirlz, to empower and engage youth to pursue technology as a career of interest.
Not only is attracting talent an obstacle, but allowing special teams to transfer skills to local teams has become increasingly difficult with the suspension of the IT Specialist Visa. Prior to the suspension/cancellation of the program, special teams travelled around the world to implement a project, transfer the skills and knowledge to local teams to run these programs and exited to move on to another project. Now, these teams aren’t able to enter Canada with ease, which presents a serious obstacle to expansion efforts. I made a commitment to Mr. Nivsarkar that I would raise this at Council, as well as with our Economic Development Office and encouraged Tata’s local team to come to Council to share these concerns. I will be connecting with Tata in Mississauga to discuss next steps as well as engaging our Federal colleagues on how we can address these concerns.
After a very productive meeting, we headed straight to the morning’s plenary session and signing ceremonies. We had the opportunity to hear from Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd and member of the Confederation of Indian Industry. Mr. Gulabchand noted that we have come at a time when India is blossoming – it is an emerging market, not a developed market with substantial potential. He expressed that we had come at the most opportune time to secure a position from which further progress can be made. To that point, I was delighted to personally congratulate Mississauga based Process Research ORTECH Inc.(PRO) for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Eureka Forbes Limited, India’s leading health and hygiene company. This partnership signals a step towards providing customers with safe and healthy drinking water through cutting edge technologies and customized water solutions. PRO is a leading, privately owned company that incubates and commercializes innovative technologies for process industries. This partnership will have Eureka Forbes setting up the manufacturing and infrastructural facilities in India, and PRO will provide the core technological expertise. In addition, Eureka Forbes’ institutional ultra-filtration (UF) system, which was successfully piloted in Canada, will be marketed by PRO for select uses in Canada.
Congratulations, Dr. V.I. Lakshmanan, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Process Research ORTECH Inc. on this outstanding achievement! According to the United Nations, in developing countries such as India, as much as 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation is a basic human right and I am so proud that a Mississauga-based company is helping to lead the way.
Following this, we joined Minister Dipika Damerla, Matt Saunders, Managing Director, Zone Startups, Ajay Ramasubramanian, Director, Zone Startups, Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, Interim President and Vice Chancellor, Ryerson University and Andrew Petter, President and Vice Chancellor, Simon Fraser University to mark an exciting development in the innovation community. Zone Startups India is a collaboration between Ryerson Futures Inc. – the technology accelerator and investment arm of Ryerson University, BSE Institute (a subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange), Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (incubator) and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Currently, Zone Startups houses 60 startups, offering 55 desk spaces, mentorship opportunities, market development and support, networking and branding opportunities, funding opportunities and much more. Today’s announcement focused on the expansion of its space, with the support of National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB). In Mississauga, we continue to foster and support a culture of innovation. We are home to the RIC Centre – the entrepreneur and innovation hub for Mississauga, the University of Toronto Mississauga’s I-CUBE business accelerator at the Institute for Management & Innovation, Sheridan College’s Centre for Mobile Innovation (CMI) and our very own Maker Mississauga – a new initiative led by the Mississauga Library System that offers opportunities such as 3D printing, robotics, digital film-making and coding. Technology is the way of the future and we must do all that we can to ensure Mississauga leads the way in supporting innovation and our budding entrepreneurs.
After spending time touring Zone Startups, we made our way to meet with Dr. Bharat K. Singh, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, and Dr. V. Rangrej, Advisor, Corporate Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group. The Birla Group is US $41 billion dollar multinational conglomerate with a range of businesses across the world. It is a multi-ethnic, multidimensional group operating in 26 countries across 6 continents with a bench strength of 136,000 employees representing 42 nationalities. Globally, the Aditya Birla Group is a metals powerhouse – Hindalco-Novelis is the largest aluminium rolling company and is one the the three biggest producers of primary aluminium in Asia. It is the number one producer of viscose staple fibre and carbon black, the fourth largest producer of insulators, the fifth largest producer of acrylic fibre, among the top 10 cement producers globally, and the largest MNC with manufacturing operations in the USA, wherein 95% of the workforce comprises of Americans. At one point, Mississauga was home to Aditya Birla Mincas, a business and technology outsourcing firm, which was sold to a group of financial investors. Both businessmen were familiar with Mississauga – I took the opportunity to focus in on our impressive ICT sector. We spoke extensively on future opportunities and the Mississauga advantage – our highly skilled workforce. My goal is to bring back the Aditya Birla Group to Mississauga – with their vast business portfolio, their team is always looking for future investments.
This day in Mumbai concluded the Ontario Business Mission to India. Overall, the Mission has been a great success with over 65 agreements signed that will bring over $240 million dollars in investment and 150 quality jobs to Ontario. Several Mississauga businesses signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding including Datawind, Process Research ORTECH (Pro) and Ambience Data Inc. In addition to these formal agreements, I also believe this Mission laid the foundation for an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship between India and Mississauga. We strengthened ties with the world’s fastest growing economy and successfully positioned Mississauga as an optimal place for Indian companies to invest and conduct business. In the weeks ahead I plan to work with Mississauga’s Economic Development Office to solidify these new relationships and continue to mine opportunities to bring incremental investment to our City.
As Premier Wynne articulated, 2016 can be the year for Canada and India. I believe that investments from markets like India will help ignite new economic development opportunities locally in Mississauga. We’re putting Mississauga on the global map!