Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre and Ecocity World Summit recently launched their Challenge Program at the Community Solutions Showcase during the Ecocity World Summit in Vancouver, BC on Oct 10, 2019.

And community solutions is, as it turns out, an apt name for the event, as it highlighted a range of technologies and ideas that solve community problems and arise out of community needs.

What do we really need in our cities to thrive in the next century, to be safe, secure and healthy regardless of whatever crises come our way (earthquakefood security problemsclimate changewater shortages)? In designing this challenge series, Foresight and EcoCity World Summit looked at three key areas they believe can provide answers to that question: 1) Infrastructure Resiliency, 2) Access to Healthy and Nutritious Food and 3) New Materials that Reduce Ecological Impacts.

And to kickoff the challenge, and get people to start thinking of how these problems can be addressed, Dylan Groven, Director of Corporate Innovation at Foresight gathered together some of the leading companies in clean technology to share how they are solving these tough urban sustainability problems.

Gerven van Straaten CEO World of Walas

It was inspiring to hear Gerben van Straaten from World of Walas talk about sustainability and innovation.

Clean air, safety, healthy and sufficient food, access to water. Basic needs that are crucial to the sustainable future we are all building. Van Straaten and the World of Walas have been in the trenches of sustainable urban development for decades (van Straaten is not only the author of Earth Charter Cities Manifesto, he is an active member of Earth Charter and was a signatory partner for the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015).

World of Walas are active in many fascinating projects centred on urban agri-systems, including green buildings and closed system farming (using algae as both a food source, and a source of energy in buildings).

Michael Riedijk / Lucent Biosciences

With the world population increasing, and most of the world either living in or moving to cities, how to feed people is a growing topic of concern.

Michael Riedijk of Lucent Biosciences is tackling the problem head on through their micronutrient- based breakthrough fertilizer, Soileos (see “How Lucent Biosciences Plans to Feed the World”)

(Did you know that according to the UN Food/Agriculture report there are only 60 years of topsoil left if our current rate of soil degradation continues? If your grandchildren are going to have a running chance of being fed, we’re going to need agtech innovations like Soileos that replace/replenish micronutrients in soil).

Chad Shipmaker / Valid Manufacturing

Chad Shipmaker from Valid Manufacturing in Salmon Arm, BC was another featured speaker at the event. Chad is the Corporate Development lead at Valid Manufacturing, and is actively involved in developing “BC Solutions for BC Agriculture”, including equipment for improving efficiencies and reducing wastewater pollutants in dairy farming, forestry and greenhouse automation.

In the Shuswap region, the agriculture sector is heavily dairy-based,, and there is a study being conducted on the feasibility of creating a food hub in the region.

Since there is already an industrial innovation hub in the Shuswap region, and a wide range of industrial solutions being brought to market from Valid (and others), the marriage of agriculture and industry promises to be a good one.

Advanced Materials

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post, where I’ll review the 2nd half of the event which featured three presenters speaking on the topic of advanced materials and green building/ construction, including advances in carbon capture, uptake and sequestration and how the concrete industry in BC is responding to innovation:

  • Kevin Davis / Regional Sales Manager, CarbonCure
  • Jonathan Moser / Lafarge Head, Environment & Public Affairs, Canada at Lafarge
  • Madison Savilow / Business Development Lead, Carbon Upcycling

Urban sustainability, feeding people, building a better, healthier world – it was exciting to see people who are working on answers and I’m looking forward to the answers that are going to come from these local innovators as this Challenge proceeds.

Foresight’s Industry Challenge programs accelerate the commercialization of technology that could provide significant benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and creating new opportunities in industrial innovation.

Our Corporate Innovation team is shifting the narrative on the innovation cycle – enabling companies to tap into diverse perspectives and talent to solve problems faster, more cost-effectively and with less risk. The new story? Faster innovation, improved business performance, and a thriving cleantech sector in Canada.