An Opportunity for Canada’s Clean Technology Sector: The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
You can’t scroll through your Google news feed these days without reading about clean technology or ‘clean tech.’ In November, for example, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) made headlines when it launched a new $135-million venture capital fund to support Canadian clean tech start-ups with global potential. And more recently on December 9, Canada’s First Ministers, with two exceptions, signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change — a national climate plan that features a price on carbon and significant support for Canada’s clean tech sector.
What is clean tech? When we talk about clean tech, we’re referring to a company that is primarily engaged in developing, commercializing and selling a proprietary technology or process that reduces or eliminates adverse environmental impacts to air, water or land.
Canada has more than 800 export orientated clean tech firms who collectively earned $11.5 billion in revenue in 2016 and employed more than 50,000 people (Analytica Advisors, 2016 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report). Clean tech is viewed as integral to our country’s transition towards a low carbon economy by many opinion and industry leaders, including our prime minister and provincial premiers.
Clean tech companies range from smart grid developers, to solar-panel manufacturers, to bioplastics producers or biofuel refiners, to builders of lithium batteries, carbon capture technologies and home energy management systems. In Canada, significant investments are being made to adopt clean tech solutions in our extractive industries to increase efficiency; while globally, new clean tech investments are being driven by the need for sustainable, ‘smart cities’ and the Internet of Things.
Financing: Canadian clean technology’s big challenge
Similar to other innovation-based industries, developing and marketing new clean technology requires significant capital. For many companies, this has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Access to funding remains the biggest challenge the sector faces — a message that was not lost on Canada’s First Ministers.
Across the NATIONAL network, our work with clean technology firms over the past decade has placed us at the centre of the industry. We work with CEOs, CFOs, CTOs and other senior leaders, and understand the challenges and opportunities they face, whether they’re start-ups or larger companies, public or private, or companies wanting to go public.
As a specialized investor relations and financial communications firm, NATIONAL Equicom excels in helping our clients raise private or venture capital. We build investor brands that inspire confidence and complement our clients’ business strategies. We work with them to develop a compelling story that will connect them with the key influencers, investors, funds and capital sources that matter most. And we leverage our network to ensure our clients’ meetings and roadshows take place at the right time with the right people, to attain the right financing.
Our Clean Technology team brings our clients broad experience from a number of industries, including energy, technology and bio-technology. We deliver creative investor, financial and strategic communications strategies and programs that change beliefs, drive behaviour and deliver business results.
Clean technology and the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is an ambitious plan to meet Canada’s 2030 climate change target of a 30 percent reduction below 2005 greenhouse gas levels and grow the economy. It builds on the Vancouver Declaration on Clean Growth and Climate Change, signed by Canada’s First Ministers in March 2016. Four federal, provincial and territorial working groups were created through the Vancouver Declaration, including the Working Group on Clean Technology, Innovation and Jobs, which was tasked to identify ways to support Canadian clean technology and innovation to help advance the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy. The Working Group’s research and consultations formed the basis of the clean technology, innovation and jobs action plan in the Pan-Canadian Framework.
The clean technology, innovation and jobs action plan consists of four themes and corresponding actions to “create the conditions for new clean technology investment and exports and seize growing global markets for clean technology goods, services, and processes.” The First Ministers concluded that “Canada needs a step change in clean technology development, commercialization, and adoption across all industrial sectors. Clarity of purpose, investment, and strong coordination that leverages pan-Canadian regional and provincial/territorial strengths are essential to seizing the economic growth and job creation opportunities of clean technology.”
Key actions on clean technology that the First Ministers agreed to pursue in the Pan-Canadian Framework include:
- Supporting early-stage technology development – governments will support new approaches to early-stage technology development, including breakthrough technologies, to advance research in areas that have the potential to substantially reduce GHG emissions and other pollutants. Innovative partnerships with the private sector will make an important contribution to this effort.
- Increasing support to advance and commercialize innovative technologies – governments will collaborate to enable access to capital for clean technology businesses to bring their products and services to market, including at the commercial-scale demonstration and deployment stages. This will include support for clean technology businesses in the natural resource sectors to improve both competitiveness and environmental performance.
- Expediting immigration of highly qualified personnel – governments will work together to enable expedited processing of visas and work permits for global talent, in particular for high-growth Canadian businesses such as those in the clean technology sector. This will attract top international talent and expand Canada’s clean growth capacity.
- Promoting exports of clean technology goods and services – federal, provincial, and territorial governments will work collaboratively to strengthen clean technology export potential. This will include targeted export missions and the development of better market intelligence, addressing barriers to markets, support for export financing and marketing, and leveraging Canada’s Trade Commissioner services.
Maximizing the potential of Canada’s clean technology sector
The actions highlighted above do offer significant potential to deliver the needed step change in Canada’s clean technology sector. For example, federal financing, like that offered through the BDC venture capital fund, is a step in the right direction. But how, when and to what level the actions are implemented will ultimately determine their success. As a next step, provincial and territorial officials must now work with their federal counterparts to make the clean tech action plan a reality.
Without a doubt, the direction, agenda and roll out of this action plan is of critical interest and relevance to Canadian clean tech firms and the sector as a whole. The four working groups consulted widely with Canadians when developing their reports in 2016. From our perspective, further engagement with government at all levels by the private sector will be necessary to ensure the clean tech component of the Pan-Canadian Framework is implemented effectively to maximize the sector’s economic and environmental potential.
NATIONAL’s Energy team is well positioned to help Canada’s clean tech leaders engage with and inform the decision making and implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework, and help raise the funding they need to grow their companies and bring their products and services to market.
——— Written by Michael Goehring, former Partner, NATIONAL Public Relations