Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Nova Scotia
The UK's Farnborough International Airshow—described as "the biggest, most internationally attended aerospace event in the world"—takes place in July, and the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Nova Scotia (ADIANS) is making plans to be there.
It's an example of ADIANS's strong commitment to providing networking and business development opportunities to its members and promoting Nova Scotia's aerospace and defence industry on the world stage.
There's also an element of "teaming up," which the association encourages among its more than 60 members. ADIANS will attend Farnborough as part of the Atlantic Alliance of Aerospace and Defence Associations. The alliance's participation at events like these has received funding support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Indeed, ADIANS is quick to acknowledge the ongoing support and active involvement of all of its provincial and federal government partners.
Awareness, advocacy, promotion and business development are words that appear in the vision statement of ADIANS, which was established in 1995.
A founding member is ADIANS president Derek Kinsman. He is vice-president and chief operating officer of Lunenburg-based Composites Atlantic, a member of the European aerospace manufacturing company EADS Sogerma. Composites Atlantic specializes in the design, development, certification and manufacturing of composite structures for aerospace, space and defence applications.
"I think principally the association has played a role successfully in developing a partnership between government and industry and in helping the industry grow internationally to ensure that we're securing long-lasting, high-quality jobs within our region," he says.
The aerospace and defence industries are significant contributors to Nova Scotia's economy. According to ADIANS, the commercial industry employs over 6,000 workers and generates annual revenues of more than $600 million. When the Department of National Defence is added to the equation, the impact grows to $1.6 billion.
ADIANS represents a broad range of commercial companies that contribute to these numbers—from one-person consultancies to businesses such as IMP Group, L-3 Communications Electronic Systems and General Dynamics Canada.
There is also variety in the sectors—commercial aeronautics, defence integration, repair and overhaul, space and marine security to name a few—and the products and services provided. These offerings include knowledge-based software products, engineering, design and certification services, hardware manufacturing and installation and systems integration.
Clients served by members include Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, NASA, the US Navy, the Canadian Forces and the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The lengthy list of countries in which members do business includes China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
While there are differences in their size and specialties, ADIANS members share a common bond when it comes to innovation.
"I think with every single one of our members you could come up with one or two innovative technologies or capabilities that they bring," Kinsman says. "You're not going to be in the competitive environment unless you bring that into your offerings."
You also need determination. Kinsman says the industry "tends to be a little bit conservative or risk-averse, so you have to be prepared to put quite a bit of effort to developing your first business opportunity. It is not unusual to take from five to seven years to develop, from initial targeting to successful contractual negotiations."
Missions are one way to get the conversation started. ADIANS exhibits resourcefulness as it organizes missions that take members to potential customers, as well as incoming sessions where companies come to the region.
"We'll gather profiles, circulate those in advance, ensure that they've got the one-on-one meeting opportunities, help facilitate plant or site visits, act as an initial entree and then step back and let them engage business to business," says ADIANS managing director Catherine MacDonald.
These missions—a number of ADIANS companies also participated in an Atlantic Canadian mission to the US last March to visit Boeing and Lockheed Martin—provide opportunities for ADIANS members to explore the possibilities of teaming up with companies within their own region and farther afield.
"You will often end up finding out more information when you share experiences on a trade mission than you will working side by side in Nova Scotia," Kinsman says. "But the real big opportunities are a combination of partnering, which could involve other people within the Nova Scotia region, but normally will also include somebody who is closer to the target market. It could be a level one supplier to Boeing; it could be somebody who's providing a technology solution to Airbus already, and they're looking for an innovative improvement—that type of thing."
Kinsman describes the environment in Nova Scotia's aerospace and defence industry as one in which "the opportunities are immense; the pressures and risks are also quite significant."
One of the pressures lies in having adequate human resources in an industry that Kinsman believes "is going to double and continue to double because our Nova Scotia companies are competent, they have an internationally competitive offering." ADIANS is a founding partner of the Aerospace and Defence HR Partnership for Nova Scotia. The HR Partnership is a free, public group which brings together those with an interest in aerospace and defence, including current and future employees, government and industry partners and educators.
On the capital front, Kinsman says ADIANS works to ensure that members have the information they need regarding available support, such as scientific research and experimentation development tax credits, and through missions, which may lead to companies partnering with others.
ADIANS has also identified certification, an expectation among many international aerospace and defence players, as an ongoing area of focus.
"It's a current but future industry," MacDonald says. "It is highly innovative, and it's knowledge based, and it's one that we hope will continue to attract the brightest and the best. A lot of those skills can be indigenous to our own province with development."
Opportunities in aerospace and defence are supported by Nova Scotia's accessibility to international markets, cost competitiveness and strong educational system. Kinsman also highlights a loyal workforce and quality of life.
"More of the people who are coming into the workplace are looking for a different type of quality of life," he says. "It's not 100 per cent career, climb the ladder, get the biggest dollar. There are other things associated with the outdoors, the size of communities and the social attitude of the people who live in the Atlantic region."