by Alyssa Kelly, Director of Research
Structured around the theme of Radical Collaboration for Regeneration, the 2022 BlueTech Forum took place in Vancouver earlier this month. After years of virtual collaboration, being able to be in person at the Vancouver Convention Centre surrounded by a panoramic vista of snow-capped mountains and sparkling ocean, while working to solve our biggest water challenges with inspired, passionate peers indeed felt radical.
With a stacked lineup of “BlueNote” speakers, engaging roundtable discussions, and attendees from across the world, it was an amazing opportunity to connect in person once again.
As a first-time attendee, here are my top four takeaways from the event:
1. Don’t Forget The Big Picture
As a professional working in the water tech and cleantech sectors, it can be easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day lens of work. To me, the lineup of BlueNote speakers was a reminder to broaden that lens. Wade Davis showed us the different ways that global cultures interact with water. Erica Geis reminded us of the importance of water’s natural cycle. Dr. Adriana Marais had us think forward – what would water use look like on another planet? How can that help us protect water on Earth? And Paul Hawken taught us why we must renew our connection to water and the environment.
These thoughtfully chosen speakers didn’t get into details on technology, policy, or business. We were brought back to the integral role water plays in climate change and our survival. The Big Picture.
2. Pipe Cleaners are an Important Business Tool
A visioning session gave the opportunity for participants to collaborate in groups and explore future water management scenarios. From imagining water-optimized cities to predicting how the water industry will show up at global events like COP 27, we were asked to get creative and think radically about the future. Using pipe cleaners, pom poms, glue sticks, and coloured markers to create a shared vision with a group of strangers was likely not what most expected, but it worked. The workshop was almost a microcosm of the conference theme. It was about stepping outside our comfort zones to work together in a new way. Maybe pipe cleaners belong in all boardrooms?
3. Canadian Companies Make Waves
BlueTech Forum attracts an international crowd, but Canadian innovators made the biggest splash – pun intended. During the Canadian Water Technology Spotlight, 20 Canadian companies showcased their innovative solutions to end-users, investors, and partners and made valuable connections with global water leaders. It’s clear that Canadian water tech more than holds its own on the global stage.
A special shout-out goes to Canadian companies Pani Energy and RainStick, who were the winners, respectively, of BlueTech Forum’s Lighthouse Awards for Best Market Strategy and Best Technology Innovation!
4. It’s All About Collaboration
Radical Collaboration showed up as a key theme throughout the conference program. What struck me was the constant reminder throughout the programming for all of us to shelve the elements of competition that prevent action. From corporates to start-ups, the point was made repeatedly that complementary technologies should work together, small or developing markets shouldn’t be ignored, and all stakeholders should work to support the scaling of new water solutions.
Water is essential to life, central to the effects of climate change, and in crisis around the world. We have the abilities, tools, and technologies today to solve many water challenges, and it’s critical for us to work together.
The 2022 BlueTech Forum was an inspiring way to welcome us all back together after two years apart. Now it’s time to get radical!
Foresight thanks our funders from the Consulate General of the Netherlands and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) for their support of the Canadian Water Innovation Spotlight reception and the Canadian delegation of companies.
For more information about how Foresight can support water sector collaboration, contact us:
Alan Shapiro – Director, waterNEXT: [email protected]
Alyssa Kelly – Director of Research: [email protected]