Ontario’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been at the centre of the economic crisis created by COVID-19. This situation has been of great concern to policymakers as not only are SMEs the backbone of the economy, they are also key to thriving and vibrant communities.
Our report, Small Business, Big Impact: How SMEs are Pivoting During COVID-19 highlights a range of Ontario’s SMEs that have successfully adapted during this difficult time. Hear stories from several of these incredible businesses: Enable Education, Cyclica, Norgen Biotek, PCL Graphics and Superior Strategies Supply and Service who have successfully pivoted in response to COVID-19.
Thank you to our Lead Partner:
“We created a COVID Task Force well before COVID-19 was considered a pandemic or a global issue. It was initially a challenge for us to get a response from research institutions in North America or Europe – people didn’t take it seriously at first – so we partnered with institutions in Asia. We continued working on this vigorously. Now, through our initial work, and the Cyclica Stimulus Plan that we launched in March 2020, we have partnered with many Canadian and global institutions to support their research in discovering medicines for COVID-19.” – Naheed Kurju, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Cyclica
“Businesses must be nimble and find ways to deliver value in a massively changing world while keeping to the core of their capabilities. A great example is how we responded to one of our client’s urgent need for quality video training. The client provides critical software for a large European manufacturer who recently announced the launch of a newly engineered ventilator, and they needed our help with product training to support the roll-out. By entirely re-thinking what would typically take weeks, we found a way to do it overnight and were able to deliver training videos right at the time of need.” – Ben Zimmer, Founder and CEO, Enable Education
“We started scaling up production and adding staff in March 2020 as we could see that there was going to be a shortage of supplies. As soon as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) started issuing alerts as well as standards for how a diagnostic test should look, we moved rapidly. We developed a test kit for the collection, stabilization, and transport of swab-based samples, kits for the purification of the viral RNA, as well as primers, controls and Master Mixes for use in detection of the virus. Today we have ramped up to over 500,000 test kits per week and have taken the necessary steps to get our products approved for diagnostic use, here in Canada and worldwide.”- Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad, President and CEO of Norgen Biotek Corp.
“By making PPE, we’re able to provide our staff and other frontline workers with more certainty and confidence in carrying on their duties. Thanks to our quick response to the pandemic and superior product quality, the reaction from clients has been overwhelming. Our amazing staff really rose to the challenge, working 24/7 to design new products, learn new production techniques, and fulfill the demand for PPE, despite material shortages across North America. The biggest lesson we learned is how important it is to be nimble, innovative, and react quickly to what is happening.” – Armond Shahinian, Partner, PCL Graphics Ltd.
While navigating these unprecedented times, we relied heavily on a strong supply network, domestically as well as internationally that allowed us to access and provide the products quickly and at a fair price for our customers. The strength of our team was definitely apparent as roles and tasks changed to meet the new demand, each of our team members stepped up to deliver exceptional service for our customers, and I could not be more proud. As an Indigenous Owned Business, we appreciate the opportunity to serve all of our customers, existing and new, it should be noted that we have taken great pride in being able to help deliver the much needed supply of COVID related products to our Indigenous Communities and Organizations. As a Small Business Owner, for over 10 years, we learned early on the value of being flexible, especially while we are serving a smaller market over a vast geographical region, so COVID allowed us to demonstrate those skills to our customers, and prove that we can deliver no matter the circumstance. – Superior Strategies Supply & Service