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Massachusetts Means Business in Canada

10/17/2013 05:26 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- OK, this may not be the most professional question that I could have asked Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick during his official Canadian visit, but I couldn't resist.

"Mr. Patrick, could you talk about the reasons why you love Canada for business?" I asked. "Also, could you comment on your favourite attractions and places in Massachusetts that you would recommend to Canadians, besides seeing your shameful hockey team?"

The governor shook his head and laughed. "Geez, did you just call the Bruins shameful? I thought this was going to be a friendly crowd. I'm going to have to call for security!"

Opportunities Brewin' for Canada and Massachusetts

Canadians may or may not agree on everything Patrick has to say that's Bruins-related (although he was gracious enough to point out that Canadians make up half the team -- which used a historic comeback to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs). But there's no question the governor wants to do business with us. He sees outstanding opportunities for both regions, noting that Massachusetts and Canada are already significant trading partners and there is much more that can be gained for both sides. He added this trip is about capitalizing on Canada's strengths in clean tech, life sciences, digital health, gaming, and other innovative industries.

"Our innovation sectors are booming right now and that same emphasis is being placed on business development right here in Toronto, and that's one of the reasons why we're here," said Patrick while answering questions at the Windsor Arms. "The start-up community, the entrepreneur community is rich and deep. The venture capital community I would venture to say is a little less risk-averse, maybe a little more mature in Massachusetts than it is in Toronto so there are opportunities for people who have good ideas to come to Massachusetts and cultivate them there.

"The clean tech sector (in Canada) is very well developed and we're trying to develop our own at home, so we've brought representatives from that sector to introduce them to their counterparts here. So things are happening in Canada, there are things happening in Massachusetts, and in many respects it's a similar emphasis on the knowledge-based economy that makes it very compatible for business across the border."

Until October 11, Patrick is leading a delegation of the Massachusetts-Canada Innovation Partnership Mission, which includes stops in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. During the mission, Patrick will participate in several business roundtables and meet with top business leaders in the innovation economy sectors to foster opportunities for collaboration between businesses in Massachusetts and Canada.

Like Massachusetts, Canada has focused heavily on growing sectors of its innovation economy in order to increase its global competitiveness, making the potential for collaboration in industries like clean tech, life sciences, and digital gaming strong. In Toronto alone, there are 1,700 clean-tech companies with 36,000 employees and an industry capitalization of $50 billion, making that region ripe for expansion and partnership. The influential TED Conference, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2014, has shifted to Vancouver, a move that will help brand Canada as a nation of innovation in the technology, entertainment, and design industries.

"Canada is a global leader of clean energy and clean water technology adoption making them a natural trading partner for Massachusetts' 5,500 clean energy companies," said Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Alicia Barton in a press release. "We're looking forward to exploring ways to forge partnerships with our Canadian partners that create expanded marketplaces for our clean energy sector."

Story by Rod Charles Vacay.ca writer

To read the rest of the story, including Governor Deval Patrick's favourite places to visit in Massachusetts, click here.