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Electronics, a Sector that’s Always Connected

MANUFACTURING SECTOR. A “hidden”, unsexy and rarely mentioned industry, electronics manufacturing has nevertheless just experienced a handful of years of explosive growth. A growth that is likely to continue in the medium to long term despite the coronavirus crisis. Why the growth so far? First of all, because its market has had good years. In the electronic systems industry in Quebec, more than 80% of companies export their products,” explains Daniel Bindley. He is the Director General of the Pôle d’excellence de l’Industrie des systèmes électroniques du Québec (ISEQ), which aims to support the industry in its development. And because these companies are exporting, and the global electronics market has grown, everyone has benefited,” he says. The boat is riding the wave. ” If so many companies export, it is because their products are niche products and the local market is limited. Some of them manufacture complete equipment, such as a ventilation support system for hospitals, while others manufacture sub-systems, such as components for the electric vehicle industry. But regardless of the sub-sector, explains Daniel Bindley, growth has been steady. Certainly, some of them are particularly buoyant. This is the case for everything related to the electrification of transport, such as charging stations and battery chargers,” explains Daniel Bindley. “And in the next three to five years, it’s obvious that we’re going to be growing.” A crisis that raises awareness One of the companies to benefit from this effervescence is SPI Bio, of Sherbrooke. Founded in 2014, it has developed an automated system for detecting legionella bacteria in aquatic environments. According to the company, it is the first system of its kind in the world. It now employs 17 people. As a sign of investment in the sector until recently, it managed to raise $1.7 million in financing during its last round, which took place in November 2019. “More than 60% of this amount comes from private investors,” explains Étienne Lemieux, CEO and co-founder. The remainder comes from institutional investors. It’s an investment that should pay off,” says Mr. Lemieux. “They’re hoping to make an easy 30-40% return.” SPI Bio currently targets the industrial sector. This is because the law forces cooling towers to be shut down if the bacteria level is too high. When this happens in a plant, the plant is at a standstill. The costs can be in the millions of dollars. In the commercial area, the air conditioning can simply be turned off. However, the company will eventually target commercial buildings such as schools and hospitals as well. And also the United States, where it lists 400,000 owners of cooling towers, all of whom are potential customers. SPI Bio sold its first unit in May 2018. At the start of the pandemic, it planned to have 40 of them installed by the end of the year,” explains Étienne Lemieux. I plan to install about 100 next year, and hopefully we could aim to do a few thousand the following year,” he says. We’re just getting down to the basics of our growth. ” What about the impact of the Coronavirus? While Lemieux believes that his customers may be less likely to buy because of uncertainty, he also believes that the crisis confirms the importance the public places on public health, which could mean that his customers may be more likely to buy. Good infrastructure Founded in 2016, Boreas Technologies began operations in April 2017. The company, which manufactures integrated circuits, already has some 100 customers. What has allowed it to grow so quickly? One of the causes is the quality of the support infrastructure in Bromont, where Boreas Technologies is based. “It’s not well known, but there is a concentration of microelectronics resources there,” says president and founder Simon Chaput. He mentions for example the C2MI, a centre for collaboration and innovation that has been funded by Quebec City to the tune of $218 million. It allowed us to accelerate our development in a way that is not normally possible,” he says. Usually, in our industry, it would take four, five or six years to get to market. We did it in three years. It’s a meteoric rise. ” The company, which spoke to Les Affaires at the beginning of the pandemic, did not specify the impact of the coronavirus on its operations. But the manufacture of microelectronic components is considered a priority in Quebec. And according to a survey conducted in early April by the U.S.-based Electronic Components Industry Association, 83% of companies said the crisis had no impact, or only a minimal or moderate impact, on their operations. Article found here: https://www.lesaffaires.com/dossier/secteur-manufacturier/l-electronique-un-secteur-toujours-branche/617746
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