Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Buy Canada: New Firm Tracks IRB Offsets

OMX CEO Nicole Verkindt.
Canadian government policies set up to insure that firms with Federal defence, aerospace (including space) and security contracts spend money in Canada equal to the value of the contracts received, could be about to undergo a private sector (and small business) makeover.

At least that's the intent of Nicole Verkindt, the CEO of Toronto based OMX Marketplace, an online database set up to provide government contractors with Canadian suppliers able to fulfill Industrial and Regional Benefit (IRB) program obligations. According to Verkindt, over $20 billion dollars still remains to be fulfilled under the program and this total is growing.

The money, known more formally under the term "offset credits," are derived from a complex calculation of "Canadian content" for each item purchased, which then must be "topped up" by further Canadian purchases until the amount spent in Canada through Canadian suppliers is calculated to be 100% of the cost of the original government contract.

A sample offset agreement, with a supplier providing 300 tanks for $400 million dollars, plus a series of direct and indirect offsets. Graphic c/o Wikipedia.

"What my company does is provide a structured database of tens of thousands of potential Canadian offset recipients (including suppliers, investment opportunities and R&D projects) by region, classification and capability accessible to Federal contractors so that they can find appropriate Canadian companies for their offset credits" stated Verkindt, in a January phone interview.

Over the next few months, OMX also intends to roll-out a "robust transactional system" for connecting prime contractors (government contractors with offset credits) to recipients (Canadian firms able to spend offset credits on Canadian programs and projects) in order to streamline internal processes and provide detailed data visualization reporting tools for both. According to Verkindt, "the end result will be a more efficient process designed to provide a clear understanding of exactly where the money is going by business size, region, type and various other metrics."

A more complex offset agreement, with different values added to reflect the importance of different types of activities to the overall contract. Graphic c/o Wikipedia.

Since going live in December 2012, the OMX company database has garnered support from a variety of Canadian and international sources. The firm is currently funded by its founders, private investors, and Government sources including the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Coral CEA, the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation of Ontario and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. The advisory board includes membership from Colt Canada, Seaspan (an association of Canadian companies involved in marine transportation), Textron, Thales and others.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic. About time someone tackled this problem. We will be following this closely.


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