Canada’s Future Economy is Innovative, Green, and Cleantech Driven. Collaboration is the Way to Get Us There.
As the world shifts into a zero-emission sustainable economy, there will be a transformation of the entire infrastructure of our society. Canada has a role to play in this shift, and I believe British Columbia should take a profound and pivotable leadership role in this transition.
Innovations that a few years ago people were predicting would be decades away are rapidly gaining traction in the market, from electric vehicles to zero-emission buildings to renewable energy and low-carbon fuels.
We are in the midst of a transition to a circular, cleantech-focused economy, and I believe this is the biggest opportunity for transforming how we organize production and consumption since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago. I also believe that many established industry players, government, and even investors are seriously underestimating the speed and depth of this transition.
As CEO of Vancouver-based Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre, I am leading an agile team that is focused on energizing the cleantech industry and positioning Canada to be a leading center for innovation, talent, and capital required to scale clean technology companies.
We are ecosystem builders, which means we are really looking at how to engage with the whole community, how to break down the communication and innovation silos that exist within industry sectors, small and medium-sized enterprises and stakeholder groups like investors, government, and academia.
In order for B.C. to pivot to a zero-carbon circular economy and hold on to a leadership position in cleantech, we have to break down communication silos, make strategic connections, and create the environment that allows cleantech companies to scale up into global solutions.
As the innovation ecosystem in B.C., we must transform along with the economy. We have to become what we aspire to be—community-focused, distributed, and powerful—a force for change.
But of course, strategies and frameworks are not enough. We have to move into action. We know things are changing, but what are they changing to? What will be the new ways of working together, getting around, providing energy and food to our communities? How will we live healthy, safe, and prosperous lives?
To move into action, and find these answers, the entire community has to be engaged – we all have to dig in, not to the status quo, but to the vision of what a regenerative, circular economy means to us and to our future.
Vancouver is the place where these unbelievably complex and sophisticated (but easily understood) strategies that have been created around the transition to a green economy can come to life. Vancouver is resilient; culturally diverse, environmentally aware, and home to a digital supercluster that is attracting top talent to the region. We also have world-leading green building policies, strong carbon tax policies, and a cleantech cluster.
In the past centuries, great cities emerged because of their locations next to trade routes, seaports, or river junctions. Today’s great centers of innovation and trade—today’s great cities, are less dependent on physical location and are more about creating smart, strategic, collaborative environments.
The exciting thing for me is that we are in the right place, at the right time, with all the right tools to be a global center of cleantech innovation. Now is the time to lead the change.