The Opportunities NB (ONB) Export Development team is, under normal circumstances, busy preparing for in-market activities such as trade missions, trade shows, accelerator programs, and conferences. With COVID-19 altering everything about the way we do business we have altered the way we support our many exporting companies.

Just like New Brunswick businesses, we recognize that in the face of this global pandemic, it is essential to remain agile and pivot to new business models when possible. We like to call it Export Development 2.0.

How exactly is ONB Export Development responding to the ‘new normal’ to help New Brunswick companies during the COVID-19 recovery?

Just like our exporters, we recognize the urgency of pivoting our business models. A few examples of our strategy moving forward include:

1. Pivoting trade show participation and trade missions to virtual and online events. We are identifying B2B virtual platforms and will launch showcasing and B2B meeting events beginning in June, with participation at Bio 2020 and Collision from Home. We will also co-host the first Food & Beverage Virtual Trade Show at the end of June to feature 15 NB food exhibitors. Existing programs such as a China food program, and new Europe and Atlanta-focused trade programs will continue with new virtual tools added.

2. Shoring up in-market specialized services by engaging experienced and connected people in our priority trade markets to help us serve our companies.

3. Undertaking/analyzing research. We are taking notice of market demand data that is helping us identify import gaps, emerging business trends, top e-commerce tools, and other important data that will help clients stay competitive and filter out new opportunities.

4. Re-Focusing target markets. We have long appreciated the need to diversify our exports and spread out the risk of any one market’s decline. We continue to chase opportunities for our firms in new international markets. We also work with our firms to satisfy demand opportunities within our North American “trust bubble”. We see the need in some sectors to shift supply chains more locally and closer to home – so redefining the meaning of export from strictly outside Canadian borders, to “trade” within Canada will allow us to put a new focus on North American markets.

5. Coaching. We continue to coach firms on how to chase opportunities in new markets. We feel strongly, however, that we must also advise on pivoting market segments. We have heard of innovative approaches and success from several New Brunswick companies as they pivoted to quickly solve issues like PPE supply shortages and tracking needs (e.g. food service to retail, clothing for public health and personal services, public safety apps pivoting to serve public health needs, predictive modelling for urban planning shifting to supporting healthcare). Success can come easier by taking great existing products to new markets – vertical or geographical. We have uncovered many cross-market opportunities and are helping firms recognize them and providing research data to help them chase those opportunities.

We are also providing counsel on changes to manufacturing processes, due to new rules on PPEs, distancing, etc. Technical guidance is coming at us and them; these are examples of how our firms must adhere to new practices, and while this is not normally the advice the Export Team would provide we do need to be aware of it and incorporate it into the conversation with our firms as we discuss new opportunities and pivoting.

6. E-commerce awareness and training. We have realized how many still untapped opportunities exist in the digital world. Training and other programs are being developed to enhance support for New Brunswick companies looking to further digitize their activity and deploy e-commerce strategies.

For more information contact our Export Development Team directly.

Be sure to visit ONB’s COVID-19 resource page for more information on how our team can help.