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Quebec is looking to create a world-class innovation zone

The Portrait of IT 2022 study by NOVIPRO/Léger shows that 46% of Quebec companies see their IT as an investment. It’s therefore important to protect this value creator. The government has also stepped up to the plate by creating a ministry that specializes in this area.

Download the Portrait of IT 2022
A survey of 500 decision-makers from Canadian companies about their IT challenges

The new ministère québécois de la Cybersécurité et du Numérique came into being on January 1, under the leadership of the member for La Peltrie, Éric Caire. The creation of this ministry is part of the Digital Transformation Offensive, aimed at accelerating the shift to digital for 42,000 Quebec businesses that have been slow to undertake this change in order to improve their productivity.

During October 2021’s Cybersecurity 20/20 event organized by Novipro, the Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon observed that, "This new ministry is at the heart of our efforts to improve the competitiveness of companies and ensure their good digital hygiene.”

He added that the role of this ministry is to both ensure the digital security of all government departments and agencies, and to support companies looking to protect the data they collect and, by extension, their clients and customers.

Funding and support programs will be developed in a multi-sectoral approach designed to bring together all the ministries involved in the current project. “One of the basic conditions for thriving in the digital economy is the protection of data,” insisted the minister.

Protecting the digital economy

Pierre Fitzgibbon added that, “This transformation is important, and data has become a new resource.” He also made it clear that it is up to the government to ensure that all companies get access to the relevant tools for protecting themselves.

"Small businesses that do not have an in-house IT department must be able to meet high security standards so that the public feels secure as to how this kind of data will be used," he said.

He observed that the confidence of the population – of which the entrepreneur class is obviously a part – has been greatly undermined due to recent data thefts from financial institutions. Moreover, it is difficult for a small company to believe that it can effectively protect its data when giants in the financial world fail to do so. “By helping our SMEs to go digital, and by showing them how to use artificial intelligence (AI) applications, we will enable them to be cyber secure.”

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Innovation zones and the digital ecosystem

The digital literacy of businesses is central to the success of economic digitization, and in this regard, Quebec already counts on major players who can share their knowledge and research results.

“We want to ensure that AI is at the service of Quebec’s SMEs. We are recognized worldwide in AI thanks to Mila and Ivado, among others: our companies should become the users of these local innovations”, added Mr. Fitzgibbon.

According to him, Quebec has the potential to become a major global player, but that in order for this potential to be realized, cybersecurity should be the crux of any international caliber innovation zone.

Cybersecurity: How to manage the risks?

Such a zone is a form of ecosystem that brings together various experts who carry out training and basic and applied research activities while mobilizing large companies and start-ups. In short, organizations and endeavours that revolve around cybersecurity and its development.

Human support

"The human factor is the Gordian knot of this situation," continued the minister. He is very aware of current workforce shortages and believes that a better match between higher education – college and university – and business needs would ensure that thousands could find work in the cybersecurity sector.

Minister Fitzgibbon acknowledged that Quebec must do more to attract and retain workers. “We can relax the rules for temporary economic immigrants hoping that they will decide to stay in Quebec once their program is over.”

Pierre Fitzgibbon is convinced that local specialists will be able to raise the bar for Quebec businesses through digital transformation. “We should let ecosystem experts determine the best practices and the best ways to communicate them,” he concluded.