Naturallia speed dating forum comes to Sudbury
Natural resources sector networking event seeks to broaden industry partnerships
Northern Ontario businesses serving the natural resources sector have something to look forward to November 11 to 13. The business alliance forum Naturallia is back for its fourth year in the region – this time in Sudbury – after successful years in Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie.
The Sudbury edition will be focussed largely on mining supply and services, although companies in manufacturing, smart energy development and forest products and services will also be attending. The forum brings businesses within the region together with other Canadian and international companies to forge new partnerships.
The forum offers a unique and efficient networking opportunity. Naturallia has agents domestically and internationally who identify companies that would be interested in the event. From there, businesses fill out a profile indicating which other attendees they are interested in meeting. Each participating business is scheduled for 14 meetings over the three days of the event.
“It’s like speed dating for business in the natural resources sector,” said strategic advisor Jason Naccarato.
Along with these meetings, a directory of all 300 companies and their contact information is distributed to ensure even those companies that don’t meet face-to-face get a chance to work together in the future. Naccarato said the directory is one of the most valuable takeaways from the forum.
The event is inspired by the French Futurallia forums that started in the 1990s. These B2B, or business-to-business, networking events continue to bring together small to medium businesses internationally.
The forum expanded to Quebec in the early 2000s. That’s when when Naturallia organizers started formulating an Ontario version of the event. Centrallia, a similar forum, was started in Winnipeg in 2010.
Naturallia was held in 2002 and 2004 before taking a break until 2013 when it was held in Sault Ste. Marie, largely revived by Naturallia’s partner, Le Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité de l’Ontario (RDÉE Ontario). Follow-up surveys showed there was a 96 per cent satisfaction rate with the 2013 event.
Naccarato anticipates even better results this year with companies from over 14 countries taking part.
This year, delegates from Germany, Finland, Spain, France, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, among others, will head north to meet their Canadian counterparts and potential partners.
“We’re becoming more global whether we like it or not and it’s those companies that form strong partnerships that are going to succeed,” said Naccarato. “Even if you’re competitors with a company that is your neighbour, you may not be competitors internationally.”
The forum’s goal is to encourage local business to work together on international contracts. Two mining supply and service companies competing within Sudbury may find it easier to obtain international contracts if they pool their resources, said Naccarato.
Not another trade show
This sort of co-operation is something Naturallia organizers see as crucial to success in the natural resources sector.
According to Naccarato, trade show attendees tend to be on their guard, while at Naturallia they try and bring their guard down and “create an environment where people are open to opportunities.”
Temiskaming Industrial Mining Equipment Limited (TIME) is one of the companies participating in this year’s Naturallia event. TIME’s Paul Aquino said the company has attended trade shows, but has never been to a networking event.
TIME is currently undergoing expansion and branching out from retail to manufacturing and distribution under one roof. Aquino hopes that the contacts made at Naturallia facilitate this expansion and set the company up for new partnerships.
Along with the networking opportunities, attendees can look forward to a prestigious keynote speaker, Jean Charest. As a Minister of the Environment in the 1990s, and Premier of Quebec in the 2000s, Charest gained a vast knowledge of the natural resources sector.
For $1,295, participants will have all of their meals paid for along with three days of meetings, roundtable discussions and networking opportunities. The unique event is anticipated to draw more than 300 unique businesses, with registration closing in early
Tagged Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Greater Sudbury, Jason Naccarato, Jean Charest, Le Réseau, Manufacturing, Minister of the Environment, Northern Ontario, Paul Aquino, Sudbury, Temiskaming Industrial Mining Equipment Limited, Winnipeg