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Canadian cleantech companies expand profile and shrink environmental footprint

Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change addresses delegates at the 16th Cleantech Forum in San Francisco.

Wade Barnes (fourth from the left), CEO of Farmers Edge, a Winnipeg-based clean technology company named on the 2018 Global Cleantech 100 list, addresses delegates at 16th Cleantech Forum in San Francisco.

In a world facing great environmental challenges, Canadian cleantech companies are driving hope for a sustainable future. Thirteen Canadian companies were recognized as part of the 100 top global environmental innovators for 2018. The list was published by the San Francisco-based Cleantech Group after reviewing 10,000 nominees from 75 countries. 
“It’s time to brag about our cleantech economy,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade. “We have a competitive edge, and we need to sell, sell, sell.

“We are joining the leaders of cleantech at the forefront of global development and proving that protecting the environment and growing the economy go hand in hand.”

Minister Champagne is referring to companies like Vancouver’s Axine, a top 100 honouree that has developed an affordable, chemical-free solution for treating high concentrations of toxic organics in industrial wastewater.

Or Vancouver’s Terramera, which is developing safe and effective plant-based products to replace chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

The top 100 list includes Winnipeg’s Farmers Edge, which, among other solutions, provides data for crop monitoring to improve productivity on farmland.

A common theme for all of the top 100 Canadian companies is their collaboration with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). The TCS provides on-the-ground assistance for companies to reach new export markets and expand internationally.
Over 161 trade commissioner offices are located around the world to help Canadian companies export by providing local connections, knowledge and market intelligence.

Bruce Ringrose, Head of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations with Farmers Edge, says the TCS gave the company a competitive edge both in North America and in Eastern Europe.

“They were very helpful in identifying appropriate state-level officials in setting up our U.S. soil analytics lab in Iowa, which will open in the fall of 2018. Our client base is growing in the United States, so it was a strategic decision to establish our own analytics lab there. The TCS helped identify economic development programs and incentives for job growth and capital expenditures, allowing us to support our growing client base.”

Ringrose says there was TCS help abroad too.

“We’re not active in the Ukraine yet, but we were able to set up short notice meetings with eight executive-level decision makers. We are now in a great position to enter the market with confidence working with three to five new partners.”
Ringrose says these executive business connections would have been harder to make on short notice without TCS assistance.
And this on-the-ground support is set to grow. In 2017, Canada moved up to fourth in the Cleantech Group rankings from seventh in 2014.

Minister Champagne says the government is strengthening TCS and Export Development Canada (EDC) to keep this momentum going and help cleantech companies export their products and services.

“Our Budget 2017 committed $2.4 billion over four years to support Canada’s clean technology industry,” explains the Minister.
This includes $1.4 billion in new financing through the Business Development Bank and Export Development Canada.

There was also a total of $15 million over four years for a TCS international business development strategy to boost the clean technology sector.

This strategy will help Canadian firms become world leaders in the export of clean and sustainable technology and processes.

And the future looks positive with many Canadian companies waiting in the wings. 

A series of workshops across Canada over the next three years will inform cleantech and green infrastructure firms of government programs and services to capitalize on growing global market opportunities. Minister Champagne says these workshops will boost the cleantech sector, and businesses will be more prepared to dive into overseas markets.

“Canadian companies must seize the opportunity provided by this strategy to make their mark on the world while reducing our carbon footprint,” he said.

The thirteen companies on this year’s list are:

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