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Quebec businessmen confident premier's trip to Israel will yield results

Last Updated May 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm EDT

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard responds to Opposition questions over former premier Jean Charest and Marc Bibeau, during question period Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at the legislature in Quebec City. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he hopes his current trip to Israel will lead to increased economic ties between the province and the Middle Eastern country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

JERUSALEM – Members of Quebec’s business community are confident that a current trip to Israel will help the province turn its innovative ideas into marketable products.

More than 100 people, including entrepreneurs, heads of research institutes and university leaders are accompanying Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard on his first-ever trip to the region.

The goal of the mission is to increase economic and academic research ties between Quebec and Israel, which is known for its technology industry and high number of digital start-ups.

Several members of his entourage say Israel could be a model to follow for Quebec, which has no shortage of talent but struggles to commercialize its products.

Hubert Bolduc, the president of an economic development agency for the Montreal region, says one of his goals is to sell the Israelis on the city’s prowess in the field of artificial intelligence.

“We have to tell them we have the best researchers,” he said.

Another participant, McGill University principal Suzanne Fortier, says she wants to study how to create better links between university researchers and the private sector.

“We have to ensure that what happens (at McGill) has benefits for society, and ensure that the knowledge and technologies pass into the hands of entrepreneurs who are going to put them in practice,” she said.

On Saturday, Couillard participated in round table discussions with business people working in information and communications.

He is expected to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday before sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.