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BC Cleantech CEOs write open letter to PM ahead of climate change conference

Photo: Adam Scotti
Photo: Adam Scotti

Just ahead of a meeting in Vancouver on Thursday between the Prime Minister and several Canadian premiers, an open letter has been released by the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance and signed by the heads of 51 technology and finance companies, articulating their proposals for developing British Columbia as a global hub of cleantech innovation.
On Tuesday, the GLOBE 2016 Innovation Expo and Leadership Summit, billed as North America’s largest and most influential sustainable-business leadership summit, also kicks off at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Prime Minister Trudeau will be speaking on a panel with three Canadian premiers discussing climate change at the GLOBE summit.
BC Premier Christy Clark will separately deliver the summit’s opening remarks on Wednesday morning.
“I look forward to working with the Premiers on combating climate change and moving toward a greener, more sustainable Canadian economy better positioned to compete globally in the areas of clean knowledge and technologies,” said Trudeau.
The CEO Alliance notes that “as other countries pour investment dollars into pioneering these technologies”, namely the governments of the United States, China, Germany, Singapore, among others, “Canada has been the world’s third greatest loser of market share for cleantech solutions since 2008, falling from 14th to 19th in terms of total market share”.
Read the open letter, printed in full below, for the four key recommendations offered by the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance to the Canadian government.
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada   K1A 0A6
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
We are a group of technology entrepreneurs and investors from British Columbia who are deeply committed to realizing the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy, resource efficiency and clean water through the commercialization of advanced technologies. Collectively, we have raised billions of dollars and created thousands of jobs in Canadian cleantech companies. We are leaders of a sector that is positioned to deliver both prosperity and sustainability for Canada in the twenty-first century.
Canada’s commitments at COP21, along with the pledges you and your cabinet have made to support clean technology and innovation, have reinvigorated global interest in Canada’s cleantech industry. This could not have come at a more important time and we fully support such forward-thinking leadership.
Over the past decade, the global market for clean technologies has grown to more than $1 trillion as demand for cleantech solutions spread to virtually every sector of the economy including power generation, forest products, oil and gas, mining, chemicals, manufacturing, agriculture and transportation. Over the same period, Canada’s cleantech sector grew dramatically and exports of manufactured environmental goods are now comparable to forestry, livestock, mineral products, and processed food.1 Cleantech is unequivocally a pillar of the Canadian economy.
While Canada’s cleantech industry has shown impressive growth in absolute terms, we are losing global market share to increasing competition from the United States, China, Germany, Singapore, Israel and other jurisdictions that are investing billions to compete in the global race for cleantech talent and capital. In fact, Canada has been the world’s third greatest loser of market share for cleantech solutions since 2008, falling from 14th to 19th in terms of total market share as other countries pour investment dollars into pioneering these technologies.2
Canada faces a critical decision: to invest in the continued growth of cleantech and the path to sustainable prosperity, or to hold back and see our leadership eroded as other countries develop the technologies of the future. The world will produce and consume more than $1 trillion of cleantech solutions. The only question is whether Canada will be a buyer or a seller.
We believe the Federal Government has a unique opportunity to transform Canada into a global leader of cleantech investment, innovation and entrepreneurship that can form the foundation of a diverse, competitive and prosperous economy while solving the world’s most challenging energy and environmental problems.
With this context, we respectfully offer the following recommendations:


Establish a $1 billion cleantech loan guarantee program to make early-stage projects bankable. Cleantech solutions are capital intensive, often requiring large amounts of project debt to achieve market deployment. There is a gap in available financing for the initial commercial deployments of new technologies for clean power generation, carbon capture, food production and water treatment. A loan guarantee, such as those developed by the U.S. DOE or the Swiss government, can guarantee a portion of project debt and reduce the risk for banks to provide loans that are needed to accelerate the deployment of clean technologies. Such a cleantech loan guarantee program should be managed by the private sector, support domestic and international initiatives and cover a range of projects from small (less than $5M) to large (over $50M).


Allocate $500 million to establish Canada as a powerhouse of cleantech venture capital. Venture capital is the lifeblood of the cleantech industry. Canada’s venture capital sector is disproportionately small compared to other countries, forcing our cleantech companies to raise capital from abroad. A strong domestic, entrepreneurial and internationally-connected cleantech venture capital industry is essential to ensure sustained growth and development of Canada’s cleantech industry. A Canadian cleantech venture capital program of this scale could support 15 – 20 new and existing cleantech venture capital funds, leveraging up to $3 billion in total capital that would support the growth of several hundred new cleantech companies.  This would not only spur additional R&D and accelerate the deployment of cleantech solutions, but also generate thousands of high-quality jobs.


Invest $1.25 billion to transform Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) into a global flagship of cleantech development. SDTC is an internationally recognized fund that has played a vital role in building Canada’s cleantech industry. SDTC is strongly supported by the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance and we should expand on the proven success of this program. SDTC’s Sustainable Development Tech Fund should be recapitalized with $150 million per year over five years. SDTC’s NextGen Biofuel Fund should be renamed, restructured, and expanded from a narrow biofuels focus to fund all types of clean technologies and capitalized with $100 million per year over five years to support later stage commercialization projects. SDTC should increase project cost sharing to 50%, expand expense re-imbursement eligibility to include intellectual property, business development and project capital, and simplify the application process where possible.  Best practices drawn from related models (e.g. ARPA-E in the U.S.) should be incorporated into SDTC, rather than replicated under separate entities. 


Level the playing field of tax credits to unlock billions in cleantech investment. Billions of dollars of investment flow to Canada’s mining and oil and gas industries as a result of federal and provincial tax credits including exploration credits, investment tax credits and others. It’s time to make these same tax credits available to Canada’s cleantech industry. For example, allowing tax losses generated by cleantech companies to flow through to their investors would unlock billions of dollars of new investment in clean power generation, transportation and water treatment. We would like to see these investment tax credits be more accessible and applicable to both R&D and project deployment. In particular, we would significantly expand the mandate for NRCAN’s CRCE program to broaden the definition of sustainable technologies, and include innovative technologies at earlier stages of development. This would expand access to capital for cleantech companies and accelerate deployment and adoption. Best practices should be adapted from the existing Canadian and U.S. oil & gas tax incentives to level the playing field.

Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Rhone
CEO,  Axine Water Technologies
Nathan Gilliland
CEO,  General Fusion
Marty  Reed
CEO,  Evok Innovations
David   Demers
CEO,  Westport Innovations
Ed  Quilty
CEO,  Aquatic Infomatics
Wal Van Lierop
CEO,  Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital
Randall MacEwan
CEO,  Ballard Power Systems
Ron  Klopfer
CEO,  Etalim
Andre Boulet
CEO,  Inventys Thermal Technologies
Ken  Fielding
CEO,  Delta-Q Technologies
Suresh  Singh
CEO,  ZincNyx Energy Solutions
Stephen  Robinson
CEO,  Dark Vision
David   Helliwell
Co-Founder,  Pulse Energy
Colin  Armstrong
Adrian  Corless
CEO,  Carbon Engineering
Judi  Hess
CEO,  Copperleaf Technologies
Michael  Gilbert
CEO,  SemiosBio Technologies
Derek Lew
CEO,  GrowthWorks Capital
James Dean
Founder & CEO,  dPoint Technologies
Mark  Kirby
CEO,  S2G Biochem
Andrew  Fursman
CEO,  1QBit
Brad  Bardua
CEO,  Endurance Wind Power
Jerry  Kroll
CEO,  ElectraMeccanica Vehicles
Jim Fletcher
CEO,  Northwest Venture Developments
Manoj  Singh
CEO,  Acuva Technologies
Janice Cheam
CEO,  Neurio Technology
Haig Farris
President,  Fractal Capital
Juergen Puetter
CEO, Blue Fuel Energy
Peter  Holgate
CEO,  Ronin8
Alex Conconi
Founding Partner,  Conconi Growth Partners
John  Stonier
CEO,  Velometro Mobility
Dan  Blondal
CEO,  Nano One Materials
Keith  Gillard
Partner,  Pangaea
Jeff More
CEO,  MineSense Technologies
Johnson  Chiang
CEO,  Avalon Battery
Andrew  Morden
CEO,  Corvus Energy
Doug Wiggin
CEO,  SWITCH Materials
Mischa Steiner
CEO,  Awesense
David   Kratochvil
CEO,  BioteQ Environmental Technologies
Phillip Abrary
CEO,  Ostara Nutrient Recovery
Frank Christiaens
Managing Partner, Cross Pacific Capital Partners
Todd Farrell
President, entrepreneurship@UBC
Karn Manhas
Founder & CEO, Terramera
Hans Knapp
Partner, Yaletown Partners
Chris Reid
Jerry Ericsson
CEO, Diacarbon Energy
Ben Nyland
CEO, Loop Energy
Curtis Berlinguette
Founder, FireWater Fuel
Greg Monte
CEO, Monte Power
Brad  Bycraft
CEO,  Illusense
Simon Pickup
CEO, Hydra Energy
Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Food
Honourable Stephane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Honourable William Francis Morneau, Minister of Finance
Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade
Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
Honourable James Gordon Carr, Minister of Natural Resources
Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science
Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism
1&2 “The 2015 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report” Analytica Advisors, 2015.

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