Foresight is building Canada’s largest cleantech innovation network, the Community of Innovators. This series showcases some of our members who are creating change in cleantech. This week: a dyamic Alberta innovation hub, Platform Calgary.
Q: What is your connection with Foresight?
A: Foresight is one of Platform Calgary’s key program partners. Platform has worked alongside Foresight to deliver advice and support to cleantech startup companies in Alberta for the past two years through the Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Program.
Q: What excites you about the work you’re doing?
A: Platform Calgary, alongside the entire Calgary innovation community, has set a goal to create 3,000 scaling companies and 30,000 new jobs in tech by 2031. Partnering with the cleantech experts at Foresight allows Platform Calgary to expand our capabilities and support the growing cleantech space in Calgary to meet our 2031 goal.
Q: What are the key challenges and opportunities related to cleantech in Canada?
A: At Platform, we are constantly seeing growth in the cleantech space in Calgary and Alberta. In 2020, Alberta broke records in venture capital investment, with cleantech being one of four main sectors to receive funding. We have also seen a gradual mindset shift inside large corporations, with key decision makers realizing the need to innovate and work more closely with startups. Even given this positive trend, cleantech startups still face similar challenges to all companies in the startup and innovation space: access to customers and access to capital. With investors and funding agencies looking for significant signs or traction, cleantech startups depend on their customers. With many customers for cleantech solutions being larger corporations, it can be difficult for a small startup to obtain the connections, traction, and momentum needed to survive with the slower pace of large, often regulated, corporations.
Q: Why is a Canadian cleantech network like the Community of Innovators important?
A: Providing a voice for the cleantech innovators is important, especially when interacting with large corporate customers. An active Community of Innovators can help lower the appearance of risk and help corporate leaders better understand the innovation community and how to work together with cleantech startups.