© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Innovation Minister Al Roach, left, and Portsmouth Aviation president Simon Escott announced the defence company will be expanding to Prince Edward Island.
P.E.I.’s involvement in the defence industry is getting a boost with the announcement that UK-based company Portsmouth Aviation is setting up shop in the province.
The company announced Thursday morning it had established Portsmouth Atlantic in Charlottetown to design, develop and manufacture defence technology with a goal of creating more than 35 jobs within the next three years.
Simon Escott, Portsmouth Aviation’s president, said the company’s plan is to start with design and engineering work in P.E.I. with a goal of eventually building a manufacturing facility.
“That idea’s early but we have brave aspirations to replicate Portsmouth U.K. and have full manufacturing and design,” he said.
Innovation P.E.I. is providing Portsmouth Atlantic with $100,000 in funding from the Discovery and Development Fund, as well as the potential for labour rebates in the future.
Portsmouth Aviation’s work includes the development of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear filtration systems for commercial and defence applications.
Other products include transportation and stowage systems, practice bombs, weapons integration systems and release units for aircraft weapons.
The company, which has been in business for 80 years and employs about 140 people in the UK, also has a facility in Saudi Arabia, is in the process of opening another in Abu Dhabi and is in discussions in India for Portsmouth Asia.
Escott said the company is working to develop innovative products with a goal of getting work within the Portsmouth group so every part of the organization works together for the benefit of their local economies.
“Each region benefit, hopefully a lot more with Canada,” he said.
The initial work in P.E.I. will focus on the national shipbuilding program and Escott said the company saw that it had to be in Canada to do that.
“We weren’t going to badge a product and ship it over here,” he said.
Portsmouth Atlantic may not be the last company in the defence industry to move to P.E.I. and Escott said he has been in discussions with his network of friends and business relationships interested in bringing their companies to P.E.I.
“There’s a lot of people very interested,” he said.
Escott emphasized the support Portsmouth received from Innovation P.E.I. and said it takes time to start a business so having that government support was fundamental to the move.
“We shared the journey,” he said.
Innovation Minister Al Roach said talks between the province and Portsmouth Aviation to bring the company to P.E.I. have been ongoing for about two years.
“I think they certainly recognize the opportunity that presents in Atlantic Canada,” he said.
As for enticing other companies in the industry to come to P.E.I., Roach said his department’s staff is pursuing opportunities, but there are no announcements pending.
“These things don’t happen overnight,” he said.