Canada claimed 12 spots on an esteemed list of the world’s top cleantech companies this year, maintaining the country’s role in supporting Global Cleantech.
“Indeed, Canada is the country whose representation on the list has increased the most over time – from one in the inaugural edition of 2009 to 12 today,” said Richard Youngman, CEO of Cleantech Group. Canada’s ability to maintain our footing shows we’re doing well in the cleantech space. But could we do more?
Reports, studies and stories all point in the same direction – Canada could be a leader in the sector that is among the fastest-growing industries worldwide and worth trillions of dollars.
For starters, there is a profusion of talent; there are currently more than 800 existing cleantech companies and innovators in Canada committed to helping mitigate the effects of climate change at home and around the world. These companies run the gamut across all cleantech sub-sectors from renewable energy companies to ones working on agricultural technologies.
Other indicators, such as the Global Cleantech Innovation Index – a rating of countries based on each one’s ability to produce cleantech start-ups and commercialize clean technology innovations – also help illustrate Canada’s potential.
In that index, Canada ranked fourth overall out of 10 countries and together, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Germany accounted for 75 per cent of all successful cleantech startups. On top of that, the index found that Canada, the U.S. and U.K offered cleantech start-ups the best access to private capital.
“There is an enormous opportunity for Canadian business in clean technology to grow and capture a large share of global markets, while improving environmental outcomes,” said Audrey Mascarenhas, CEO of Questor Technology, a Calgary-based efficient waste gas technology company. She also chairs the “clean technology table,” a government-industry collaboration Ottawa announced in 2017 as part of its innovation and skills plan to support economic growth in six sectors including cleantech.
The group – which includes 14 industry members in addition to Mascarenhas, one representative from Natural Resources and another from Innovation, Science and Economic Development – issued a report in the fall of 2018.
One of the group’s stated goals is to grow exports of cleantech and environmental services to $20 billion by 2025. With $7.8 billion in such exports in 2018, that will require an 11.4 per cent increase in such exports annually.
Achieving that, they said, will help position Canada as a global leader. But there are obstacles to overcome.
The clean technology report identified seven factors holding Canadian players back. These include: a risk-averse domestic market and low adoption rates of new cleantech; a disconnect between environmental policy targets and regulations; small relative firm size, a lack of strategic expertise, market information and participation in targeted international bodies; insufficient representation of women and indigenous people in the workforce; low access to suitable growth capital, scale-up investments and grants; and limited entrepreneurial and soft skills.
Major players in the Canadian cleantech ecosystem, both private and public, can help strengthen Canadian cleantech companies by joining forces and sharing expertise, supporting smaller companies, women- and Indigenous-led businesses and crafting policies to address risks and opportunities.
But simply having the right connections or the best new technologies won’t guarantee Canada’s success. Often, Canada’s innovators and entrepreneurs may lack skills such as the managerial know-how necessary to move their business from the research and development phase to the commercialization phase. This is where dedicated teams are there to help. Programs such as those delivered by the MaRS Cleantech Venture Services team, an entrepreneurial venture, offer training on a number of issues, such as how to communicate with investors.
It’s organizations like these that can help raise awareness of the sector and set the stage in making Cleantech a priority for thought leaders, innovators, non-governmental organizations, financiers, and policy-makers across the globe – and help elevate Canada.
In addition to MaRS, there are a number of groups across Canada that can help facilitate growth for Canadian cleantech companies in a variety of different ways once they are past R&D. They include Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Cleantech Practice, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Canadian Commercial Corporation, the Trade Commissioner Service and the Clean Growth Hub, as well as industry organizations like Écotech Québec.
“As Canada’s export credit agency, we are in a position to help this sector through our knowledge, financing and investment programs and relationships. With six years of experience and a dedicated team we are committed to helping these important companies break barriers and go, grow and succeed outside of Canada’s borders,” said Carl Burlock, Vice President of Financing and International Growth Capital with Export Development Canada (EDC).
This year’s list of the Global Cleantech 100 was announced January 28, 2019, during the 10th annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. A panel of expert engineers, innovators and investors sifted through more than 12,000 applications from more than 60 countries to decide the list of 2019’s most innovative clean technology companies.
North America has the highest representation with 58 winners, Europe is behind with 28 companies, Asia has 11 companies on the list, Africa has two, and Australia made the list with one company. The U.S. is far and away the most represented country, with 46 companies making the list. Among the 12 Canadian companies on the list, technologies range from solutions in agriculture, biochemicals, energy efficiency, resources and environment, advanced materials and smart grid, with more than half based in British Columbia, and the rest in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
2019 Canadian Winners:
• CarbonCure Technologies Inc. – Advanced Materials (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
• CoolEdge Lighting Inc. – Energy Efficiency (Richmond, British Columbia)
• Ecobee Inc. – Energy Efficiency (Toronto, Ontario)
• Enbala Power Networks Inc. – Smart Grid (North Vancouver, British Colombia)
• Metamaterial Technologies Inc.– Advanced Materials (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)
• Minesense Technologies Ltd. – Resources and Environment (Vancouver, British Columbia)
• SemiosBios Technologies Inc. – Agriculture (Vancouver, British Columbia)
• Terramera Inc. – Biochemicals (Vancouver, British Columbia)
• GaN Systems Inc. – Energy Efficiency (Ottawa, Ontario)
• Opus One Solutions – Energy Efficiency (Richmond Hill, Ontario)
• Axine Water Technologies Inc. – Resources and Environment (Vancouver, British Columbia)
• Inventys Inc. – Resources and Environment (Burnaby, British Columbia)
To see the full list, visit https://i3connect.com/gct100/the-list.
This article was submitted by Lynn Côté, Cleantech Lead, Export Development Canada.
EDC helps Canadian companies go, grow and succeed in their international business. As a financial Crown corporation, EDC provides financing, insurance, bonding, trade knowledge, and matchmaking connections to help Canadian companies sell and invest abroad. EDC can also provide financial solutions to foreign buyers to facilitate and grow purchases from Canadian companies.