General Electric Canada’s President and CEO, Elyse Allan, spoke recently at the Economic Club of Canada about how process improvements and technology can help businesses mitigate the risk of doing business abroad. Allan stressed the need to expand in a global economy, and lauded he leadership role that the federal government is taking in their attempts to promote market diversification and free trade.  For too long, businesses have been focused on the US for sales, and it is definitely time to look at the larger global economy.

GE has been investing heavily in innovation and plans to invest $6 million in R&D this year (they filed 2,800 patents last year).  Two programs that have been paramount to GE’s research initiatives are the SR&ED and Sustainable Development Technologies (SDT) programs.  Allan says that there are several Canadian R&D investments that would not have been in Canada were in not for the SR&ED program.

During her conversation with the Financial Post’s Dan Ovsey, Allan stressed the fact that process and performance improvements can be just as important as research to stimulate exports.   Driving productivity, she explains, can free up capacity for reinvestment in R&D.