From Northern Ireland to North America:

Invest NI in Canada

As Northern Ireland’s economic development agency, Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI) is responsible for growing the economy through foreign direct investment and trade.

The agency’s 30 international offices play a key role in this – teams in the Americas, Europe, IMEA and APAC help high-growth international companies expand into Northern Ireland, and help Northern Irish companies export internationally, connecting them with trading partners across the globe.

The Invest NI Americas team does this in the US, Canada and Latin America from offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, LA, Toronto, and Mexico.

In honour of Canada Day on 1 July, here’s a look at Invest NI’s work in Canada…

Promoting Transatlantic Trade

One focus of Invest NI’s Toronto office is helping companies export to Canada, which is a key market for Northern Ireland. Canada is Northern Ireland’s 4th top export market after Republic of Ireland, United States and Germany.

Key exports from Northern Ireland to Canada encompass a range of sectors, reflecting the diverse industries and capabilities of Northern Irish companies. Some of the prominent export categories include Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing.

With a growing tech footprint, Northern Irish companies export technology products and digital solutions to Canada. This includes software, IT services, hardware components, and innovative digital solutions across industries such as finance, healthcare, and government. Northern Ireland companies with offices & entities in Canada include, Kainos, Options Technology, MPA Recruitment, First Derivative, Fern Software, EventMap, Kinsetsu, Seedling Education to name a few.

Overall, Northern Ireland's exports to Canada represent a diverse range of industries and products. These exports contribute to a strong bilateral trade between Northern Ireland and Canada, fostering economic growth and collaboration between the two regions.

Canada is one of the largest countries in the world by geography with 10 provinces, three territories and multiple major cities. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so the goal is to identify business opportunities best matched with Northern Ireland strengths and work with companies that can fulfil those needs.

The team follows Canadian news daily, keeping tabs on government and business at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to identify potential opportunities. They also follow what’s going on in Northern Ireland in our priority sectors: technology, financial services, materials handling, waste and recycling, agricultural machinery and technology, food and drink, and life and health sciences. Staying in contact with client companies and HQ colleagues helps provide a good grasp on who’s ready and willing to export into Canada.

We offer one-on-one support to Northern Ireland companies, and also:

  • plan trade missions for exhibitions like the Collision tech conference and Canada Waste to Resource Conference
  • hold industry update webinars with local trade associations to educate firms on what’s happening in market
  • introduce them to buyers, distributors, and trading partners
  • help develop market entry strategy
  • provide marketing and PR support

Invest NI is also the face of Northern Ireland in Canada, maintaining relationships with regional clients, Canadian business organisations, government entities (both ours and theirs), and the Northern Irish diaspora community.

Helping Companies Succeed

Canadian companies may not be aware that Northern Ireland produces fantastic fintech, cybersecurity and AI technology, or that the region’s been called the “Silicon Valley of waste and recycling” equipment, with companies like Terex Ecotec, Ecohog, Kiverco, CDE, CK International, Terex Washing Systems and EDGE Innovate all providing waste management solutions in Canada. That’s why Invest NI has to be a bit of a storyteller, promoting the strengths of our companies on a one-to-one basis to potential buyers, and on a wider basis through marketing and PR.

With Invest NI’s support companies like Sensoteq, Unitas Software, CDE, Ecohog and many others have been able to secure commercial wins in Canada. Companies such as Kainos, FD, Kinsetsu, Datactics, Alchemy Technology Services, O’Neill’s International Sportswear, Artemis Technologies, Difco, Redrock Machinery and many others have all utilised Invest NI offerings to grow and strengthen their businesses – they all actively export or are exploring opportunities for exporting into Canada.

Canadian companies have been tapping into Northern Ireland’s talent pool recently with companies like Optiva and CGI working with Invest Northern Ireland support to open offices and scale teams. Outside of Tech more and more Canadian companies are interested in Northern Ireland’s compelling Dual Market Access position with the UK and EU – and the in-market team are actively working with a number of companies in Canada to explore this opportunity further.  

Invest NI has worked hard with local agents to get Northern Irish whiskey brands listed with local liquor boards and profiled at leading Canadian whiskey events such as Spirit of Toronto. For many years, Bushmills was the only whiskey from the north sold in Canada. Now, brands like Dunville’s, McConnell’s, Hinch, Two Stacks, and others are gaining traction in the market.

Collaborations with wider UK government partners have also resulted in success with Northern Ireland companies such as Enzai participating on an Innovate UK & MARS Discovery District programme to break into the Canadian market, Enzai were able to augment this further by working with the local Invest NI Team to get introductions into large Canadian Financial Institutions.

Northern Irish Diaspora

The Northern Irish diaspora plays a hugely important role in Invest NI’s work in Canada.

4.6 million Canadians – more than 13% of the population – claim full or partial Irish ancestry. One of Northern Ireland’s best exports is without a doubt its people. They go global and they do great things. You only have to look across media, culture, the arts and business in Canada to find someone from Northern Ireland. David Walmsley the Editor in Chief of Canada’s largest Broadsheet the Globe and Mail is from Northern Ireland originally. The Mayor of Burnaby in British Columbia, Mike Hurley is from Magherafelt!

Invest NI keeps in close touch with the diaspora community, who are generous with their time and connections, making introductions for companies, and the local team in Canada. Recently the local team held a NI Connections event in Vancouver and was lucky to engage with a number of diaspora and also more recent arrivals from Northern Ireland who are building careers in British Columbia.

The Invest NI team is very appreciative of how engaged the NI Diaspora community is in the agency’s work in Canada.

If you are interested in collaborating with Invest NI in Canada, contact Michael Barton, Regional Director - Canada.


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