When the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) came into force in January 2015, it opened new opportunities for businesses in western Canada. Before getting started in South Korea, however, western entrepreneurs must learn how to do business there. The Korea Papers are a series of case studies that present practical lessons and insights from companies that have found opportunities, challenges and successes in South Korea. They are intended as an aid to companies considering the market.
These Korea Papers grew from an informal meeting of Canadian trade promotion agencies where a need for new, innovative outreach materials to encourage firms to consider new markets was raised.
Greenlight Innovation is a Burnaby, B.C. technology company specializing in cuttingedge testing equipment for batteries and other energy storage solutions. Its experience in South Korea shows how a small business with the right value proposition can compete in the market, and elsewhere in Asia. Not only did Greenlight succeed in Korea, it became one of the company’s best regional sales offices.
Because it is so specialized, the testing equipment that Greenlight produces has a small market. Large companies, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEM) or research facilities, are its main clientele. Worldwide revenue from energy storage in 2014 was $675 million dollars, with forecasts of $15.6 billion by 2024.1 Each sale is substantial although even major customers buy less than one piece of equipment per year, and sales can be few and far between. Selling to global markets is essential to success because of the low volume. Like in other knowledge-based industries, the need to stay relevant means that Greenlight needs to be involved wherever the technology is being applied. Asia, especially Korea, is an active region for the application of this technology.
Greenlight Innovation was founded in 1992 in Burnaby, B.C. It got its start testing equipment for batteries and other energy storage systems. Early on, it was approached by B.C.-based Ballard Power Systems to enter an exclusive five-year agreement to supply hydrogen fuel cell testing equipment.
Today, Greenlight Innovation is truly global. When it was released from its five-year contract with Ballard, it began selling around the world and has been doing so ever since.
It recently purchased a local automation company in B.C. which enables Greenlight to integrate its offering from testing to production. After a customer has created a prototype energy storage solution, the usual next step is mass production. This is typically accomplished through automation. The purchase of the automation company has allowed Greenlight to increase its value proposition.
Download the full Greenlight case study in the pdf below