U.S. Companies Warm to New Partnership and Investment Opportunities in New Media and Information Technology in Quebec, "Silicon Alley North."

NEW YORK, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The executive conference and showcase, "The International Business of New Media: HIGHLIGHT QUEBEC," concluded successfully last night with participants benefiting from new knowledge, awareness, and incentives to explore cross-border investments, partnerships, and business opportunities.

As a first step in developing interactions and relationships between the new media communities in Quebec and the U.S., the conference welcomed nearly 40 Quebec multimedia and new media companies and associations and government officials from various Quebec ministries; press members including Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal Interactive, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and AlleyCat News; guests including Citibank, Silicon Valley Bank, AT&T, and New York City Economic Development Corporation; and Silicon Alley representatives.

During the two-day event participants took part in presentations, panel discussions, and executive roundtable sessions, formulating perspectives on issues like globalization, convergence, and strategic partnerships. In "globalization" the challenges of new competitors, unfamiliar markets, remote customers, and cultural barriers can be conquered by successful local partnerships. In the convergence of technologies, media types, and even industries, companies can partner for the necessary, specialized skills while focusing on their own core competencies.

Roger Bertrand, minister of industry, commerce, science and technology, detailed the economic incentives offered by the Quebec government to promote the new media and information technology industries. Jean Louis Tremblay of the Ministry of Finance introduced government-funded programs such as ITDCs (information technology development centers) aimed at supporting local and foreign companies to do research and development in Quebec.

Softimage, a Montreal-based company, was cited for their animation software which was used in major U.S. motion pictures like Toy Story and Jurassic Park. Another Quebec company, Discreet Logic was recognized for the special effects in Titanic, The Fifth Element, and numerous television commercials.

Ubi Soft, a game developer from France, experiencing rapid growth, set up a 300-person production subsidiary in Montreal to develop their interactive entertainment software including popular games like Playmobil and F1 Formula Racing. "In Montreal you have lots of creativity, lower costs, and very motivated people … [and] it is a link between the European and North American markets," said Executive Vice President of Ubi Soft Canada, Sabine Hamelin, in a live interview on CNNfn's "Digital Jam," which also brought attention to Quebec's thriving new media industry.

"The conference was not only an eye opener for U.S. companies about the wealth of talent in the new media, multimedia, and info tech industries in Quebec, it was also a call to action," says Dr. Augustine Fou, an organizer and president of go-Digital Internet Consulting Group. "The conference 'laid the first brick' in the bridge between the new media hubs of Quebec and New York. The companies that are the most progressive and efficient in collaborating across geographic, cultural, and industry 'borders' will build real competitive advantages for themselves."

Mr. Stephane Choquette of Montreal-based Radarmedia commented that "the conference was positive; the buzz and word-of-mouth surrounding it means that the next time I am in New York, fewer potential partners will ask 'who? from where?'" Steve Masur of New York-based EntMedia said, "having done several capital formation projects for European Internet startups, the conference underscored the attractiveness and importance of Quebec because of its geographic proximity and cultural similarity to the U.S."

"Compared to large companies that are already global, like Bloomberg, small companies with limited resources benefit more significantly from partnering locally for new channels of distribution, access to customers and specialized talent, and economic advantages," said Charles Garcia, Sales Manager of Bloomberg Financial Markets.

Louise Perras, Chief Executive Officer of CESAM Multimedia Consortium commented that "Quebec, with its cultural diversity, expertise in the multimedia industry, advanced infrastructure, and governmental incentives, represents an unparalleled source of potential partners for high-growth companies. At the conference, the ground work for eventual, profitable partnerships was established."

"New York State and Quebec have long enjoyed a robust trading relationship in telecommunications equipment and natural resources. It is natural that Quebec and New York will form strong relationships around new media," says Alice O'Rourke, Executive Director of the New York New Media Association. "NYNMA is working with several organizations, including the offices of the U.S. Consul General in Montreal for a return trade mission to the MIM conference in Montreal in mid-May."

"This was a very productive first step towards introducing Quebec new media and multimedia firms to a diverse group of New York companies. The interest shown by the participating U.S businesses and media is very encouraging," says Michel Brisson, director for economic affairs, Quebec Government House, New York. "We are confident that these two days of interaction will not only result in tangible collaborations in the short term, but will also produce a mutually beneficial U.S./Quebec partnership lasting well into the next millennium."

The conference was co-organized by Quebec Government House, New York, Quebec's chief representative office in the United States that promotes awareness of Quebec's many attributes in the areas of trade, investment, the arts, culture and education; CESAM Multimedia Consortium, a non-profit organization offering services and information that promote the growth of multimedia and new media firms; and New York-based go-Digital Internet Consulting Group <>, a management consulting firm specializing in Internet strategy consulting and technology implementation management.

The event took place at the New York Information Technology Center's Digital Sandbox, located at 55 Broad Street, New York, NY. PR Newswire is official news release distribution service for the HIGHLIGHT QUEBEC conference.

SOURCE go-Digital Internet Consulting Group
-0- 04/17/98
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