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Our Goal Is To Have Over 50 Start-ups From India Located In Brampton In Next Year: Patrick Brown, Mayor, City Of Brampton

In an Interview with Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld, Patrick Brown, Mayor of the City of Brampton talks about welcoming Indian entrepreneurs in Brampton and more

Photo Credit : Himanshu Kumar

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Mayor Brown welcome to India. You just told me that you have done 20 trips to India since 2007.

It’s great to be back in India. I consider India as my second home. From as far north as Ladakh where I have played ice-hockey to the back waters of Kerala. I have fallen in love with all of India. The Canadian High Commission organizes a tournament every year. I have been there a few times. So anyone who tells me there is no ice-hockey in India they are wrong. There is lots of ice-hockey in the Himalayas.

Apart from building relationships between India and Canada in multifaceted ways. What is your agenda of visit this time?

First of all it’s a natural relationship with common histories, Commonwealth tradition, the legal system, the belief in multiculturalism there’s a lot of mutual perspectives in India and in Canada. Both being two vibrant democracies. What I am here for is Brampton, the community that I lead. It is the ninth largest city in Canada, it is the fastest growing big city, it’s the most diverse and it’s the youngest big city in Canada, just like India. We have a particular affinity with India. There are more South Asians in Brampton than anywhere else in Canada. Some people joke that capital of Punjab isn’t Chandigarh, it’s actually Brampton. So many of our residents their heart is still in India. These people to people connections are powerful and we are here to build upon that. To say Brampton is open for business. Right now, walls going up in some countries and barriers, it doesn’t welcome immigration, it doesn’t welcome inclusive politics. In Canada it is very different. We are welcoming the entire world. I am here in India to say that start-ups in the tech sphere, investors come to Brampton. We welcome you with open arms and there is opportunity in Brampton, Canada.

You talk about Indian tech entrepreneurs to set base in Brampton. What would be the areas that you think would be naturally suited for the kind of market access that Brampton offers. Not just the Brampton market but the access that it offers. What are some business areas that there is a natural attraction and a fit?

There are two sides to it. Firstly why would a start-up or an investor in India want to come to Brampton? Secondly what we are looking for. Let me say why they want to come to Brampton, we are right at the heart of the population base in Canada, next to the largest airport. All the key transportation hubs, we are an hour from the US border. We have preferential trade agreements in Canada. Which means you can get the US market without the headache, you can get Europe with preferential access through our trade agreements. But we are also part of the super innovation corridor. Canada has identified a part of the country which is focussed on technology and Brampton is in the middle of it. We have been named the national centre for cyber security and we have built our own co-working spaces. So if you’re a start-up in India. One we can expedite your visa, two we can provide space for you to grow and succeed. We want to create and environment in which you can grow higher and be successful. In terms of the other angle, what we are looking for are the jobs of tomorrow. What excites me about start-ups is that they are coming up with an idea and they are determined and that’s what I love. I was in Hyderabad the other day at T-Hub and it blew me away. The way they’ve created an ecosystem for technology companies to succeed. Just like they did in Hyderabad we want to do that in Brampton. We are building our own centre for innovation. We already have our entrepreneur centre. We are building our cyber security centre for all of Canada. So, what we are looking for is people who can fit in that ecosystem. If you want a stable investment, if you want a community that welcomes technology and innovation. We are a perfect match for you.

We in India can always learn from leaders across the world and in Canada, in being business friendly and proactive. In seeking investments and setting up businesses in various locations. Traditionally India and Canada have collaborated in many areas. What are some of the business areas? Canadian pension funds are investing into large Indian stocks. Where do you think the Indian- Canadian business cooperation beyond existing areas will progress to?

It really is a two way street. There are Canadian investors making significant investments in India because they believe it is of good value. What I am here to draw attention to is that there are great value in investments particularly in Brampton region. If you look at the sectors that are successful in the region are food processing sector. We have a very vibrant food processing sector in Brampton that is the leader in North America. We also have a successful medical devices sector. If you are looking at investments in the medical devices area we are a natural fit. Also in aerospace, MDA Canada which is the Canada space arm. We are talking about the highest tech jobs you can get. That’s done out of Brampton too. We have a growing pharmaceuticals sector. There are many opportunities where investments can be made in companies that are growing. If you want to make an investment you want to get a good return. There are many success stories in Canada where you can make investments which would reap a significant reward. 

There are two class of companies one is a start-up where the size of operations may be small right now but in the future maybe be very big. The others are established companies. For a start-up what is the ticket size for getting started. What kind of investment does a start-up need to make?

For the larger scale investment companies do their due diligence. What I am really focused on in India are the start-ups. The beauty is there isn’t a cost, there isn’t a financial barrier. It’s your drive and determination. If you’ve got a great idea, I am here to say that you can succeed in Canada. We have a Start-up visa program. That enables people that are dogged, determined and bright to have their success in Canada. Just like we have seen 171 start-ups succeed in Hyderabad T-Hub you can have that type of success in the North America market and there is a no better place to launch into the North America market than Brampton.

If we met next year in 2021. In the next 12 months how many start-ups do you think Brampton can attract?

Our goal is to have over 50 start-ups from India located in Brampton in the next year. So, I hope if I was talking to you in a year we would have exceeded that number. It’s an ambitious number but we feel that it is achievable.

Let’s focus a bit on the gig economy. You talked about start-ups creating the ideas of tomorrow. We literally are in the gig economy where people are doing projects or they have made their hobby their profession and they are engaged in that. Give me one example of a sector that you believe is underleveraged in Brampton and Indian firms can create something special there.

There’s natural opportunity in Brampton in the cyber security space. In cyber security we are just looking at the tip of the iceberg. Digital warfare is escalating. Right now it is a 600 billion dollar industry worldwide and there isn’t the infrastructure out there to equip businesses with the protection they need. We just had the Canada – US cybersecurity conference in Brampton with all the top officials and it’s an eye opener. I we look at the cybersecurity challenges and where we are. So, if I am a determined company right now I would say come to Brampton work with our cybersecurity catalyst and there is a huge market. There aren’t enough companies doing this and that means there is opportunity. The best thing is that it is a product that is needed. 

You talked about entrepreneurship early on. What do you think Indians can learn from Canadians and Canadians can learn from Indians?    

One thing that I have always been impressed by in India is the determined entrepreneurs that we see. I have spoken at several Vibrant Gujarat’s in Gandhinagar. The way that India recognizes that there is a market beyond Indian borders is impressive. In terms of what you can learn from Canada, if you look at things that we are proud about. We have a very stable economy. If you look at 2009 when there was a global recession. None of our banks went under. Canada has a conservative culture. We are regulated, we are safe. So, if you want to see an environment where your investment is safe. There is that sense of safety. We’ve built a regulatory system that protects citizens and that protects investments. That is a refreshing environment to be in.   


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