Winter Olympics bring warm trade relations for Austrade’s Business Club Australia

MIXING sport and business is nothing new. Many deals have been sealed in corporate boxes at the football and at company golf days. But talking business while watching the Winter Olympics in Vancouver was a first for Austrade’s Business Club Australia.

Brisbane-based businesses Flight Centre, Ausenco and privately-held Aviation & Maritime Systems and Fire & Safety Systems attended networking functions at the Games.

Austrade’s Vancouver post manager, Kevin Lamb, said the program provided a unique opportunity for businesses to increase awareness of the opportunities between Australia and Canada.

“Canada is a natural market for Australian companies, as no two countries are more similar in culture, business, government structure and policies,” Mr Lamb said.

He said 16 Australian businesses had secured Games-related contracts with the Vancouver Organising Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, some with the assistance of Austrade.

In fact, British Columbia’s 2010 Commerce Centre modelled itself on Austrade’s highly regarded Business Club Australia program.

Fire & Safety Systems’ Canada president Brad Pickersgill said when the Brisbane-based company – which provides fire protection systems worldwide to the mining, oil and gas, power generation and industrial industries – decided to establish a presence in Vancouver, it was Austrade that assisted with setting up.

“Austrade has provided networking opportunities to help grow our presence in Canada, especially Vancouver, helping us to navigate our entry into Canada. They provided advice on legal, accounting and business services, making our transition much easier,” Mr Pickersgill said.

“Our participation in the Business Club Australia program will add more value for us because of the good networking opportunities and access to key business people it provides.”

Austrade’s Toronto-based Senior Trade Commissioner and Consul General, Stefan Trofimovs told The Courier- Mail that a growing number of Australian companies in Canada were targeting the oil and gas sector. They cover engineering design, procurement and construction, equipment, software, training and other technology services.

Canada is the world’s third-largest producer of natural gas .

The Business Club Australia kicked off at the Sydney 2000 Olympics by holding networking functions and since then has been conducted around successive Rugby World Cups; the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games; and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

More than 36,000 people from around the world have participated in Business Club Australia.

The Courier-Mail March 08, 2010

Alex Tilbury

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