Canadian Manufacturing

Event brings together leaders in Canada’s cleantech ecosystem

by Guillermo Freire, Vice-President Structured and Project Finance, EDC   

Canadian Manufacturing
Environment Exporting & Importing Risk & Compliance Sustainability Cleantech Public Sector

Cleantech Export Week will take place this November

PHOTO: Canadian soldiers from operation LENTUS deployed on a flooded street in Laval, Quebec/norgo via Wikimedia Commons

There has been no shortage of reminders lately that climate change is upon us.

In the spring, major flooding struck Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick for the second time in as many years; July was the hottest month ever recorded since 1880; and, as I write, wildfires are burning across the globe, from Alaska to Spain and the Amazon.

It can be difficult to find the silver lining considering all this. But I think we’re lucky many people are taking action to either mitigate, or create large-scale impacts on, the effects of climate change.

And we’re lucky a lot of those people are in Canada.


At the same time, those people are lucky there’s an entire ecosystem of private and public sector organizations to help them succeed.

One of the things Export Development Canada does in this realm is our annual Cleantech Export Week. Though we haven’t officially announced it yet, this fall we’re hosting it for the third year.

The event aims to create a space where burgeoning businesses mingle with rising stars and established companies, all with the goal of keeping Canada’s share of the global cleantech sector growing, at a time when the world needs our talents and solutions.

Cleantech Export Week isn’t necessarily about the technologies these companies are creating. Rather, this is a week geared toward encouraging, inspiring and empowering cleantech businesses.

In a relatively short time, Canada has established itself worldwide as a hub for cleantech innovation, where the technologies developed have real sales potential in the global market.

And that market is massive.

A report from Ottawa-based Smart Prosperity Institute released in 2018 found clean technology will be a $2.2-trillion industry worldwide by 2022, with an estimated $3.6 trillion of investment up for grabs globally between now and 2030.

Part of this growth is based on the expanding definition of “cleantech.” The term is moving beyond the traditional areas (renewable energy, biofuels and wastewater treatments, for example) toward transportation agriculture, and construction. Also driving the growth are large markets, like India and China, who are hungry for cleantech, and making significant investments into solutions specific to their environmental challenges and goals.

Today, Canada has more than 800 companies in the cleantech sector at various stages of development, with total revenues exceeding $13 billion, and employing more than 55,000 people.

There’s no doubt these numbers are great. But one area where the Canadian industry faces a challenge is with regard to the size of the domestic market. While Canada is a great place to build a business and begin sales, it’s just isn’t big enough to support the country’s cleantech innovations across an increasing number of sectors.

To become successful in the long-term, it’s necessary to be able to sell your goods or services to markets beyond our own.

Cleantech Export Week aims to help companies and innovators figure out how to do just that.

Throughout the week, an ecosystem of supports – Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), MaRS, Écotech Québec, Foresight, CleanTech North, ACTia, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) and EDC among others – will come together to share their experiences and expertise with the people and businesses making up Canada’s cleantech sector.

Whether a company is looking for funding at the critical phase between research and development and commercialization (that’s where the SDTC comes in), support raising growth equity (that’s BDC’s wheelhouse), help preparing for international markets (the TCS can help there) or capital to take on their next big contract (that’s us), it’s all there.

Ultimately, we want these entrepreneurs and established businesses to know they’re not operating in a vacuum and, equally, there are plenty of ideas waiting to hatch and  organizations to help.

We’re especially looking forward to this year’s event, featuring a panel of innovators from a range of sectors (sorry, we can’t divulge who yet – we have to keep some surprises for the official announcement!), a discussion with EDC’s chief economist Peter Hall, present awards to this year’s “Export Stars” and “Ones to Watch.” Also during the week, a special breakout session we’re co-hosting with MaRS and Natural Resources Canada will focus on women in cleantech, ensuring the typically underrepresented group has the information needed for them to succeed.

As the effects of climate change hit us faster and harder, we’re need all hands on deck. We need to make sure all viable technologies that might help the world during this crisis have the chance to succeed.

Guillermo Freire is EDC’s Vice-President Structured and Project Finance. In this role, he works to help ensure the cleantech team delivers on the organization’s cleantech targets.



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