GLOBE 2016 – a pivotal point for Canada’s clean tech entrepreneurs

GLOBE 2016 – a pivotal point for Canada’s clean tech entrepreneurs

There’s never been a better time for Canadian clean tech companies to develop and market their products and services at home and around the world.

Governments globally are getting more aggressive about fighting environmental issues such as climate change, an opportunity that is spurring increased investment in the sector. The cost of clean technology, such as solar and wind power, is also dropping, amid growing consumer interest in more environmentally friendly products.

“We’re at a pivotal point,” says Mike Gerbis, CEO of the GLOBE Series, the organization behind the GLOBE 2016 Conference & Innovation Expo in Vancouver March 2-4.

“A number of market forces are driving this shift to a new low-carbon, sustainable economy. Governments at all levels are rolling out enabling policy, commodity prices are on a roller-coaster ride, and investors are growing more sensitive to environmental risk.  The result – corporate demand is accelerating, and the investment community is opening the taps on capital.”

A growing number of Canadian entrepreneurs are taking advantage, developing new technology to provide innovative solutions to reduce emissions and waste, says Gerbis, who is also CEO of The Delphi Group, a national sustainability consulting firm.

Canadian products and services are gaining traction around the world and will “continue to be one of the fastest-growing sectors for decades,” Gerbis predicts.

“There is a huge opportunity in the market today for Canadian entrepreneurs.”

An example is Quebec-based FigBytes, whose software solutions automate planning, implementation and performance tracking of sustainability initiatives.

“Organizations can embed sustainability and CSR into their business strategy and their brand, in a way they are currently unable to do with an old-fashioned sustainability/CSR report,” says Co-CEO Colin Grant of the company’s software.

The company, founded in 2011 by Ted Dhillon and Sonan Devgan, competes in what analysts call the EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) compliance software space. FigBytes claims to be leading an evolution of this sector into what it refers to as “Strategic Integrated Sustainability.” This evolution is in response to leading companies moving beyond compliance to use sustainability to re-invent their core business strategies.

“A lot of people ask us, ‘How do you convince a corporation to try to be sustainable?’ We don’t; that was 20 years ago,” says Grant. “We are helping the change agents within organization – the sustainability professionals who tend to be the somewhat isolated voices — and allowing them to make their plans beautifully simple and integrated with the core business plan. We help them to visualize the change they want to create.”

The most successful clean tech companies are those with products or services that fix a problem or create something new to help create energy, treat water and reduce waste and/or emissions, says Lynn Côté, Sector Advisor, Infrastructure & Financial Services at Export Development Canada.

Most small-and-medium sized companies have limited resources to grow their business, which Côté says requires them to “focus and target” on their existing and potential customer base.

“Companies need to be very clear on what their value proposition is to potential buyers, and what makes them innovative,” says Côté, who will be among the thousands of delegates attending GLOBE 2016. “Focus on who has the problem, and who will buy your product or service.”

She cites the mining industry as an example of an industry clamouring to meet with Canadian clean tech companies to help reduce their reduce their environmental footprint and in turn lower costs.

Côté says the opportunities outside of Canada vary by market, and are driven in part by government incentives for companies and industries to achieve environmental goals such as the reduction of emissions.

“Companies need to educate themselves about where the economics make the most sense,” she says. “The business model needs to match what buyers want and what local economics can sustain.”

Côté also recommends small businesses take advantage of the growing investor interest in the sector, including resources offered by incubators. Growing may also mean giving up some control of the business to owners with more business experience.

The key, Côté says, is finding the right investors, managers and other experts to help the business flourish in the rapidly expanding clean technology sector.

About GLOBE 2016

Now in its 26th year the biennial GLOBE Series this year includes the GLOBE Leadership Summit and the GLOBE 2016 Conference & Innovation Expo.

Among its high-profile speakers, GLOBE 2016 features a keynote address from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as inspiring presentations by luminaries including Michael Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School, Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer, TD Bank Group, Deb Frodl, Global Executive Director of ecomagination, GE and many others.

A showcase of green innovation, the GLOBE Innovation Expo showcases emerging and established companies addressing environmental challenges ranging from climate change to food and water security.

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