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Doer: Manitoba premier seeks more ties with Wisconsin

By Brian E. Clark
For WisBusiness.com

As fellow Midwesterners separated by Minnesota and an international border, Wisconsin and Manitoba have much in common and a lot to gain by increased collaboration, the outgoing premier of the Canadian province said Thursday.

Speaking at a Wisconsin Innovation Network luncheon at the Sheraton Madison Hotel, Gary Doer said he hopes Manitoba can gain from Wisconsin’s success in the turning scientific breakthroughs into patents, products, companies and jobs.

“We need to do more when it comes to innovation and technology transfer,” he said. “We have a lot of brain power, but we have work to do.”

On the flip side, the premier (roughly equivalent to a state governor) said Wisconsin can gain by finding new markets north of the border and adapting technologies coming out of Manitoba.

“Your state already sells 30 percent of its products in Canada and a lot of that goes to Manitoba,” said Doer, who will become Canada’s newest ambassador to the United States on Monday.

He has headed his home province for a decade. This week’s visit to Wisconsin was his last official trade mission, though he said he anticipates returning to the region as ambassador.

“I’m a Midwesterner with a fondness for this part of the country,” he said. “Moreover, I consider Governor Doyle a good friend who has a lot of good ideas.”

But Doer declined to speculate if Doyle would join him in Washington D.C. as part of the Obama administration, as some wags have suggested since before the current president took office.  

Doer also said he hopes to extend the so-called "IQ Corridor" that proponents see running from Chicago to Madison to the Twin Cities and then on up to Winnipeg. He also said he wants more scientific collaboration in areas including transportation, water quality, sustainability, renewable energy and biotechnology.

“There is a lot we can learn from each other,” he said.  “I view the memorandum of understanding that Gov. Doyle and I signed this morning to be an on-ramp to exchanging expertise from both countries.”

Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, echoed Doer and said he, too, would like to see the IQ corridor border continue north into Canada.

“There are a lot of similarities between Wisconsin, Minnesota and Manitoba,” he said. “I think there will be plenty of opportunities to do things across state and international borders in the future that will benefit both our business and research sectors.”

Also on Thursday, Doer and Doyle signed a new pact between Wisconsin and Manitoba aimed at boosting innovation in clean energy, biosciences, agriculture, water treatment and other areas of mutual interest.
The agreement outlines plans to identify target sectors for joint initiatives, opportunities for private sector companies to partner up, and joint research and development activities, Doyle said. The pact will build on Wisconsin and Manitoba’s $900 million annual bilateral trade, he said.
"The agreement will ensure our joint efforts to promote innovation through collaboration, commercialization and trade, and it will continue long into the future," Doyle said.
Doer praised Doyle's leadership on renewable energy as chairman of Midwest Governor's Association. Doyle visited the Canadian province last year to tour hydroelectric facilities.
"You are a true leader in this regard, and we really have a lot of respect for your initiatives and the initiatives here in Wisconsin," he said.

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