British Columbia and the “Must Innovate” Scenario
British Columbia is in a period of intense change and transition in cleantech. Not only are we reacting to an unprecedented modern pandemic in a time of climate crisis, but multiple economic trends are converging at once, new technological advances and business opportunities are announced daily, and action-focused roadmaps detailing rapid transition into a low-carbon economy are being developed across multiple sectors of our economy.
These external pressures, along with converging market forces and the short timeframe we have for meeting climate goals are putting the province in a risky ‘must innovate’ situation. If we are to meet climate goals, both in BC and across Canada, then we will need to live and breathe innovation.
And that’s not easy – the recently published CORE Cleantech Cluster roadmap landscape reports describe multiple areas and sectors where large scale change is happening and disruption is inevitable.
Reducing Risk by Working Together (and Strategically)
Innovation is essential to reaching climate goals and maintaining a competitive position locally and globally, but in order to reduce this system-wide risk, it must occur within a carefully constructed strategic framework.
Not having a big picture innovation process could lead to too much change happening too quickly, which usually leads to wasted money and lost opportunities. There must be a clear and singular vision that drives a concerted and coordinated effort across the entire “Helix-5” of BC’s cleantech ecosystem – small/medium sized enterprises, government, large industry, academia and investors.
Organizations and leaders in BC across the Helix-5 have recognized that, and have contributed to the recently published CORE Cleantech Cluster Strategy framework for encouraging and supporting innovation in the context of the low-carbon economy and achieving CleanBC goals.
BC’s CORE Cleantech Cluster: Shortening Innovation Cycles
The BC CORE Cleantech Cluster strategy outlines a framework for the entire province to start living and breathing innovation as it moves into action around climate change, energizes its cleantech sector and stakes its claim as a serious competitor in the global cleantech market (estimated at $2.5 trillion USD by 2022).
Let’s take a look at the top 3 ways cluster organizations shorten innovation cycles:
- Industrial Challenges – From the Grand Energy Storage Challenge issued by the US Dept of Energy to find energy storage solutions, to the Sustainable Industry Challenge in the Netherlands, and Foresight’s recently launched Recyclable Wind Turbine Challenge, countries and organizations around the world are developing challenge programs that bring scale-ups and large businesses together to make deals and solve industry challenges. A cluster organization is able to mobilize its strategic networks in support of these targeted industrial challenges that are designed to fast-track the adoption, scaleup, investments and exports for companies.Facilitating industrial challenges and tying them into strategic funding opportunities has been a remarkably successful approach to driving innovation in a region. Foresight’s recently completed ARCTIC challenge series has helped reduce over a million tonnes of GHG emissions per year while generating nearly $700 million in economic activity.
- Strengthening Relationships & Partnerships with Academia: A cluster organization supports activities and programs that encourage partnerships between academia, SMEs and industry on targeted R&D that is aligned with the overall strategic framework. Connecting academia into cluster programming also fosters talent development, improves workforce planning, and embeds a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at the academic level.
- Expanding Global & Pan-Canadian Opportunities – Innovation, especially large scale innovation, requires partnerships and export development. Cluster organizations use targeted programs and engagement initiatives to close regional, national, and international communications and networking gaps that exist among economic development agencies and organizations.
The future economy in action is an innovation economy.
Canadian climate goals are ambitious, large in scale, and looming on the horizon – cluster organizations like BC’s CORE Cleantech Cluster bring together the whole ecosystem – scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry, educators and policy decision-makers – to foster green, smart economic development and shorten innovation cycles.
“Research demonstrates that regional economies with strong clusters have higher levels of innovation, more patents, more entrepreneurship, more successful start-ups, higher export and economy, higher wages and better productivity. Regions with strong clusters are particularly successful in attracting new investment and attracting talent”
Interested in joining the CORE BC Cleantech Cluster? Get involved.