From September 26-28, I had the opportunity to attend Elevate, Canada’s tech and innovation festival in Toronto. This three-day event had more than 10,000 attendees and highlighted the strength of Canada’s tech ecosystem while showcasing cutting-edge innovations across several sectors — including cleantech.
While conversations about AI dominated many of the sessions, other themes that ran as undercurrents throughout the festival were sustainability, social impact, and inclusion.
I left the event with these main takeaways:
- Canada has an incredible technology ecosystem that is focused on solving critical global challenges (like climate change).
- Strategic partnerships across a wide variety of stakeholder groups are integral to building a thriving ecosystem that supports and fosters innovation.
As I walked through the tradeshow floor on the first day of the festival, meeting passionate cleantech leaders and innovators, I was struck by the clear strength of Canada’s cleantech ecosystem, as well as the focus on impact that permeated the festival. Whether it was startups in retail, med-tech, fin-tech, or cleantech, many of the technologies presented had significant potential for positive impact.
In his session titled, At the Speed of Light, Chris Hadfield emphasized the role that technology will play in continuing to make the world liveable while also improving overall quality of life. It was encouraging to see the audience listening raptly to this message that is at the heart of what we are focused on every day at Foresight Canada — accelerating the transition to a net zero future and creating a liveable future for generations to come.
My second key takeaway was the variety of speakers, including folks from industry, startups, all three levels of government, and investors. The wealth of perspectives shared during these sessions illuminated the pivotal roles that each of these groups plays in shaping the conditions essential for the development and adoption of new technologies. This highlighted the importance of partnerships and the need for collaboration across diverse stakeholder groups to foster and scale breakthrough innovations while also emphasizing the need for collective efforts to create an ecosystem where innovators have the support they need.
The important role that one of these stakeholder groups, municipalities, play was discussed in the panel moderated by Foresight’s Director of Industry Innovation, Heather Crochetiere, titled, “Fostering Innovation in Municipalities: Insights from Innovative Cities”. This panel highlighted the role that municipalities can play in promoting innovation in clean technologies and shed light on some of the complexities and challenges associated with the adoption of cleantech.
The critical role municipalities play and the challenges they face in supporting the adoption of cleantech solutions is a theme that Foresight has also been exploring recently through an extensive discovery process and the publication of a white paper which is available here and also something we are hoping to enable through the creation of our Cleantech Adoption Platform.
Elevate effectively underscored that forging partnerships and collaborative strategies are integral components in supporting innovation. While it was clear that there are a lot of stakeholders involved in the technology ecosystem in Canada, it is going to take a significant focus on cleantech to overcome the threats posed by the climate crisis.
In my role at Foresight on the partnerships team this is exactly what we are working on. Canada clearly has a thriving cleantech ecosystem, but we need to continue to come together to build the powerful partnerships that will ramp up support for Canada’s cleantech innovators through increased access to capital and the accelerated adoption of climate solutions.
With the increase in extreme weather events, forest fires, and signs of climate breakdown the time for collaboration is now. On our own, we will not be able to achieve our goal of seeing Canada become the first G7 country to reach net zero. But through impactful partnerships and a strong cleantech ecosystem, we can make this goal a reality.
If you’re an academic, investor, or industry or government leader who shares Foresight’s vision for a sustainable future, please reach out to me about partnership opportunities - let’s work together to accelerate Canada’s path to net zero!