One Nova Scotia member urges investment despite low Canadian dollar

One of the members of the One Nova Scotia Coalition says there's no time like now to invest in the research and development of products.

'The time to really invest into research and development is all the time,' says Nova Scotia businessman

Jean-Paul Deveau, a member of the One Nova Scotia Coalition, says it's important to keep an eye on investing in research and development even when the economic outlook isn't strong. (Duckie Monster/Flickr)

One of the members of the One Nova Scotia Coalition says there's no time like now to invest in the research and development of products.

Like the name of the website through which the coalition released its action plan — wechoosenow.ca — member Jean-Paul Deveau says it's the right time to keep an eye on the province's future viability. 

Deveau is president of Acadian Seaplants Limited, a biotech export company (onens.ca)

"The time to really invest into research and development is all the time," Deveau told CBC's Mainstreet Thursday. 

That kind of investment, Deveau said, is key to developing original products so you can compete with the world without having to be the lowest cost provider.

By investing on an ongoing basis, "you're going to have a steady stream of improvements, either new products, new processes, new development that's going to allow you to be competitive. The rest of the world is doing this," he said.

Mitigating risk

Deveau is the president of Acadian Seaplants Limited, a biotech export company that employs 350 people in eight countries. He currently sits on the board of directors of Nova Scotia chapter of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. 

Exporting not only brings new money into the provincial economy, Deveau says it can help in troubled times — especially if you export to around 80 countries as Acadian Seaplants does.

It's like having a diversified investment portfolio.

"In our case, many of our products are associated with climate and from that point of view there can be a drought in some area, and in another area there isn't that sort of thing," Deveau said.

"The exchange rate may be less favourable in one area, but it will be more favourable in another one. So you have all these different factors, which allows that diversification to be able to mitigate that risk."

Don't be 'totally dependent' on low dollar

The low Canadian dollar might also seem like a good opportunity. It makes it cheaper for Americans to buy Canadian products.

But Deveau says he cautions against using a favourable exchange rate as a crutch.

"You do not want to build a business that's totally dependent on a low dollar," he said. 

"You want to build a business where you're adding value and if the dollar goes back to par — which I'm absolutely sure it will at a certain point in time — you have to make sure that you're going to be able to be competitive in that structure."

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