Canadians seek Northern alliance with Sheffield

Petra Billing, head of DLA Piper Sheffield, John Mothersole, Mayor Brian Bigger and Sir Nigel Knowles
Petra Billing, head of DLA Piper Sheffield, John Mothersole, Mayor Brian Bigger and Sir Nigel Knowles
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A Canadian mayor chose Sheffield for his first overseas trade mission after hearing about the Northern Powerhouse.

Brian Bigger, the elected mayor of Greater Sudbury in northern Ontario, said he was keen to form partnerships with the companies in the North due to the ‘synergies’ with his patch.

Mr Bigger is one of five mayors of cities in the north of the province who are working together to counter the might of Toronto.

Sudbury is a once huge mining area that now focuses on mine services, reclamation and hi-tech work such as biomining - developing ways of using bacteria to reclaim the estimated $20bn of minerals in tailings.

For British firms it is also a springboard into the vast US market thanks to the NAFTA free trade agreement, Mr Bigger added.

“I sought out the Northern Powerhouse for my first trip - in Northern Ontario, we are moving in an amazingly comparable direction.

“Identifying northern collaborations is something we have focused on to find ways of differentiating ourselves in a global market.

“I’ve come here to get a better understanding of the opportunities of two-way trade.”

Mr Bigger was given a tour of the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe, before attending lunch at the offices of law firm DLA Piper in Sheffield city centre.

Sir Nigel Knowles, head of Sheffield City Region and DLA global ambassador, and John Mothersole, chief executive of Sheffield City Council, were co-hosts and gave speeches saying Sheffield was open for business.

Diplomat Aaron Rosland, from the Canadian Embassy in London, said: “In Canada we sell north-south.

“We have a concierge service for companies that want to get established in North America, including 50 per cent support for employing an export manager to help penetrate the US market.

“You can link up with Sudbury companies and use their networks.”

Sudbury was the ‘Nickel capital of the world’. Now it is big in mining services including underground telecoms and protective clothing.