Collaboration: The Key to Canada’s Net Zero Transition
Climate change is an urgent problem that requires bold and immediate action on a global scale. I believe Canada has an opportunity to play a leadership role in the world-wide transition to a green economy. That’s why the passionate team at Foresight, Canada’s Cleantech Accelerator, has set our sights on an audacious new goal — for Canada to become the first G7 country to reach net zero emissions. Solutions to achieving this ambitious target will require unprecedented teamwork and collaboration across all sectors, industries, and levels of government. Recognizing this, I’ve used my four years as CEO at Foresight to morph our humbly rooted cleantech accelerator into a thriving organization with national impact. Now, with a team and programs spanning the country, we are working together as strategizers, ecosystem mappers, and partnership builders, committed to bringing together a national network of change-makers that will accelerate the adoption of cleantech innovation across the country. Through this collaborative approach, Foresight is enabling Canada to lead in the race to net zero. To ignite this collaboration, we have stepped up commitments to grow a comprehensive Canadian cleantech ecosystem made up of innovators, investors, industry, government, and academia (our Helix 5). Through programming, strategic initiatives, and collaboration within these diverse groups, we are relentlessly helping to set priorities, drive cleantech innovation, and lead Canada’s inclusive and green transition. Here’s how we work with these strategic partners:
Meeting Canada’s ambitious climate targets will require leadership and support from all levels of government, as well as consultation with, and learnings from, Indigenous leadership. To help foster this, myself and the senior team at Foresight actively engage with government to give them the data, opportunities, and insights needed to provide funding and support to cleantech innovators, as well as incentivize green transitions in traditionally emissions-heavy industries. We have made it a priority to learn from traditional Indigenous leaders and ensure that we are pursuing a just and inclusive transition, supporting adaptation and resiliency through the climate crisis.
Throughout my 18-year career in the cleantech space, it has become clear to me that Canadian researchers have the capacity to develop solutions that will accelerate the global transition to a net zero economy. Through partnerships with research institutions across the country, Foresight is building connections and forging relationships between industry, innovators, and academia, helping to match research with real-world industry needs, and get the right technologies deployed faster with the support of curated buyers. Academic institutions play a critical role in Canada’s path to net zero. Whether by offering space and guidance to commercialize lab-developed IP, or preparing a generation of skilled workers for roles in the green economy, Academia is a key component of our Helix 5.
Companies across the globe are striving to meet or exceed bold environmental targets. We’ve seen their desire to source and adopt new and innovative technologies. To help bridge the gap between innovators and industry, Foresight runs Innovation Challenges that connect companies facing sustainability hurdles with market-ready cleantech solution providers. So far, we have successfully run 52 Innovation Challenges with national and international partners, resulting in the removal of nearly 69 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. These Innovation Challenges play an important role in connecting Industry with other key Helix 5 stakeholders, fostering collaboration, offering pilot opportunities, and creating new partnerships between technology producers and buyers.
Canada is home to an abundance of innovative entrepreneurs, and I am constantly inspired by their work. Foresight’s flagship Acceleration programs help entrepreneurs at any stage to shape their ideas, commercialize their clean technologies, and develop the know-how to prepare for investment, adoption, and export, as well as effectively scale their ventures. Through mentorship, education programs, investor introductions, and networking events, we help cleantech ventures get to market and scale faster. Since I became CEO in 2018, Foresight’s programs have helped nearly 800 companies validate, commercialize, and scale their cleantech solutions. Those companies have gone on to create more than 6,000 green jobs for Canadians, and a total economic impact for Canada of more than $2 billion.
Access to capital is a major hurdle for Canada’s cleantech ventures. To mitigate this challenge, Foresight is working to mobilize domestic capital and to connect our entrepreneurs to the world’s leading cleantech investors. We do this through running Investor Readiness programs, which educate ventures on how to prepare and pitch their solutions to investors, as well as by running curated matchmaking events, like our Foresight 50 initiative, that facilitate the deployment of capital. In November of 2021, our first ever Foresight 50 companies went on to collectively raise $593M in capital support in one year alone, to help propel their cleantech solutions forward.
Our Net Zero Future
The connections Foresight forges are all motivated by the drive to position Canada as a global leader in cleantech. We are steadfast on our goal, and with the support of our Helix 5, we’re continuously increasing our impact on all fronts — helping cleantech ventures raise more capital, generate more revenue, pilot their solutions with more customers, and create more green jobs.
In June 2022, we announced Foresight-supported cleantech ventures collectively reached unicorn status, raising over $1 billion dollars in capital. Not only is this a major achievement for Foresight, but it also shows the strength of Canada’s cleantech sector and the opportunity for Canadian leadership on a global cleantech stage. It’s clear the sector is accelerating rapidly, and we expect this to grow exponentially over the next several years.
Drawing on this momentum, Foresight will continue to relentlessly drive cleantech adoption through collaboration with our Helix 5. It will take a massive eort and a whole lot of teamwork, but we cannot afford to step back from the challenge of preserving a livable future for generations to come. I am confident that Canada can be the first G7 country to reach net zero, and Foresight will be the catalyst for the critical collaboration needed to achieve this audacious goal.