Chief Executive Officer, Foresight Canada
Canada has ambitious climate goals. The road to net zero is not a simple and straightforward path. It will require careful and thoughtful planning, targeted investments, and a robust, well-supported industry of cleantech innovators. Scaling back industry, while part of the solution, is not yet viable in many areas – the demands of our society need to be met. We need technological innovations that will allow the industry to advance while reducing emissions.
Earlier this year, Foresight conducted a national survey among Canada’s cleantech ventures which indicated entrepreneurs’ number one need is access to capital, followed by industry connections. We believe, and we’ve seen success, in addressing the third need- coaching.
By focusing on the three C’s, we can collectively support the commercialization and adoption of cleantech solutions that combat climate change.
Companies need capital to grow. If we want to achieve a net zero economy by 2050, we need to create a strong cleantech ecosystem in Canada. We need to accelerate the pace of innovation, bring new ideas to market faster, and scale the cleantech industry. To make that happen, emerging cleantech ventures must have access to capital.
In November, we announced the Foresight 50 – our inaugural list of the 50 most investable cleantech companies in Canada. These ventures represent cleantech innovators from across Canada, with solutions spanning from watertech and renewable energy to carbontech and agriculture. The goal of the program is to connect the Foresight 50 companies with investors and stimulate deal flow.
Foresight also recently launched our Investor Readiness Workshop that helps companies prepare to successfully pitch investors. Combining essential training and mentorship with matchmaking events and venture showcases to connect emerging cleantech ventures and investors helps not only give the foundations but also the introductions earlier stage companies need to succeed and scale.
Securing capital, especially early on, is a huge hurdle for cleantech innovators. But they also need partners willing to test their innovations in the field.
The second C, connections, refers to the need to develop relationships between innovators and industry.
Every major Canadian industry is facing the challenge of meeting ambitious emissions targets. If we’re going to reach net zero emissions by 2050, a lot of change has to happen. We need to connect industry with innovators and accelerate this process.
Foresight leads Industry Challenges that feature reverse pitches – industry partners outline their specific sustainability challenges to innovators, who can then present market-driven solutions. We need to do more of this.
Collaboration is key. Our goal is to grow the cleantech ecosystem, transform Canada’s economy, and position this country as a global leader in climate innovation. That is going to require purposeful partnerships and teamwork.
2030 is quickly approaching, and we need to scale the cleantech ecosystem with haste. Getting technologies to market at scale quickly means avoiding setbacks, and the best way to avoid bumps in the road is to have a guide who has travelled the path before.
Coaching is a critical piece of the puzzle that is accelerating Canada’s cleantech ventures. We need experts to share their knowledge. Having a coach or mentor who has “been there, done that,” can illuminate the process of getting a company to scale. What pitfalls to avoid, mistakes they have made, opportunities to look out for – there is no substitute for experience.
One of the most valuable aspects of Foresight’s acceleration programs is one-to-one coaching with experts.
Our roster of more than 100 highly experienced Executives in Residence and mentors who work closely with ventures. They give them advice and guidance, and they also hold them accountable for their goals.
Graduates from our acceleration programs consistently comment on the quality of our roster of executives, and the high calibre of advice and guidance they received from those experts.
Canada is equipped to meet the climate change challenge. We have the talent, the expertise, and the will to develop climate solutions that will protect our precious planet. We need to invest heavily into the three C’s to get us there.
To achieve our emissions targets we need to support the innovators who are taking on these challenges with capital infusions, collaborative partnerships, and mentors willing to share their expertise