Canada’s cleantech experts weigh in on how to deploy faster and farther

 

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On May 4th, Delphi released the GLOBE Canada Cleantech Innovation Workshop Report. The report is the outcome of a workshop involving top cleantech funders, government, accelerators and incubators, industry and innovators representatives that happened at GLOBE 2016 in Vancouver in March. We played the role of facilitator and were privy to an energized discussion about how we can accelerate the deployment of Canadian cleantech.

Cleantech, defined

There are often different views about what is classified as clean technology, or “cleantech”. We use an inclusive definition that encompasses “a diverse range of products, services, and processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and wastes.”

Cleantech is the new black

Recent government budgets have emphasized the role clean technology and innovation will play in achieving environmental and economic goals.  For example, the federal budget brought down in March earmarked significant funds to support the cleantech sector, as highlighted in a previous Delphi blog.

In addition, on April 14th, the province of Alberta announced investments in clean technology as part of their 2016-17 budget, including:

  • $3.4 billion for large-scale renewable energy projects, transformative innovation and technology development, bioenergy initiatives, and plan implementation.
  • $2.2 billion in green infrastructure, such as public transit.

Outside of government, cleantech stakeholders are forming new partnerships to advance the interests of the sector. For example, the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance, Ecotech Québec, MaRS Discovery District and the Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance (ACTia) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate efforts that promote clean technologies, combat climate change and contribute to a strong, diverse, sustainable economy.

As part of this new collaborative effort, the partners brought together CEOs from nearly 200 cleantech companies and investors across Canada to sign a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with recommendations on how the Canadian government can accelerate economic growth, job creation and environmental benefits.

And the GLOBE Canada Cleantech Innovation Workshop Report says…

A wide range of issues relating to financing and investment, technical gaps and challenges, intellectual property, and policy and government levers were discussed over the course of the workshop. The full slate of questions and recommendations relating to all of these topics is included in the report. These were put to a vote and resulted in a prioritized list of recommendations and next steps (link to report). A few highlights are included here:

  • Establish a loan guarantee program for earlier stage first commercialized projects in order to attract a critical mass for bankability
  • Enhance the flow through tax credit application to include clean tech projects and companies.
  • Human capital: subsidy support program for clean tech companies to hire specialized talent, and tax forgiveness to level currently lower wages
  • Encourage common language on “clean tech” and develop a better understanding of the sector
  • Similar to “TRL”, develop a commercial and market readiness ranking, e.g. “XRL”, to drive maturation by commercial readiness as well as technology readiness

In addition to the specific recommendations, one of the most compelling findings was the shared view that time is of the essence. While there is the sense that coordination of public and private sector interests is both timely and relevant, the need for more consultation was clearly considered less critical than the need to create momentum.

Leveraging what we know – and using early wins to build traction – will allow the cleantech sector to compete globally as quickly as possible, and in turn increase our capacity to solve pressing domestic issues at the heart of Canada’s industrial competitiveness.

The workshop was the start of a renewed national conversation on an important issue that is a fast moving file for governments.  We will continue to engage key stakeholders and track developments in the sector – stay tuned for future blogs on this topic!

Contributors:
Carol-Ann Brown – Director (cabrown@delphi.ca)
Bruce Dudley – Senior Vice President (bdudley@delphi.ca)
Alex Carr – Senior Associate (acarr@delphi.ca)

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