Can you innovate on a model that drives innovation? Foresight did. Our approach to innovation and cluster development has drawn attention from near and far, and support from members of the innovation ecosystem across the globe. We thought it was worth explaining so that more organizations can benefit from it.

Foresight’s Helix 5™ model of engagement builds on the original triple-helix model, which refers to interactions between academia, industry, and government to foster economic and social development. This is a good starting point, but in working with entrepreneurs starting new businesses, it quickly became clear that grouping small and medium enterprises with large industry leaders just didn’t make sense. They need different support, tools and resources, have a different economic impact, and are pursuing different goals. There is also a need to close the loop on sustainable finance to ensure the success of these ventures. To truly compete globally, we need to ensure private capital is at the table, especially when more innovation programs and cluster development activities are led with public funding dollars. 

With this in mind, we added two important stakeholder groups that are critical to successful cluster-style innovation programs in all sectors: innovators and investors. Bring them together, and our Helix 5 stakeholders each play an important role in accelerating cleantech in Canada:

  • Governments at all levels provide leadership through policy and support for cleantech innovation. They set the tone and goals, and provide the needed funding to accelerate the growth of cleantech as a whole within Canada, as well as support for Canadian businesses exporting to new markets, positioning Canada as a global cleantech lead. 
  • Industry has an important role to play in adopting cleantech solutions. To meet ambitious emissions targets and reduce their environmental impact, corporate players recognize they need to start making big changes. They are aggressively defining and searching for the solutions to support them in this transition.
  • Academia generates knowledge and research that spark innovation, as well as training the next generation of innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors with the critical skills they need to compete in the green economy. As the younger generation seeks jobs with purpose, green jobs are increasingly attractive. Academia plays an important role connecting them with one of Canada’s fastest growing job markets. 
  • Investors fuel the growth of cleantech ventures. Increasingly, impact investors who are financing SMEs and larger companies alike are focusing on profit as well as impact. We are seeing rapid growth from investors who demand social and environmental benefits along with bottom line returns.
  • Innovators are the entrepreneurs, researchers, and SMEs who create and commercialize cleantech solutions. From waste water treatment to carbon capture to hydrogen fuels, these innovations are putting Canada on the path to net zero.

In addition to the five stakeholder groups, the Helix 5 model is rooted in principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. We are vigilant about creating and promoting opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups and ensuring the voices of all Canadians are welcomed and heard, including people of colour and Indigenous people. 

Foresight’s commitment to collaboration is rooted in the recognition that we cannot solve the climate crisis by working in silos. Through our programs, events, and partnerships, we constantly ask ourselves, “Does this include all Helix 5 partners?”, and “Does this serve the needs of all Helix 5 partners?”. With this in mind, we’ve supported a solid foundation for Canada to emerge and lead as a global cleantech icon.  We hope you see yourself in this model. 

Contact us if you have ideas for new initiatives. Stay connected with cleantech news and opportunities by joining our Community of Innovators.

And as we like to say, Helix 5 Innovation Starts Here!

Written By:

Jeanette Jackson

Jeanette is an experienced CEO and entrepreneur with broad experience in technology, business development, marketing, and operations. As the CEO of Foresight, Jeanette has led rapid growth, transforming a regional organization into Canada’s largest cleantech accelerator. Since 2018, under her leadership, Foresight has expanded accelerator programs from one province to national, built a vibrant Industry Innovation Program, and launched a sectoral approach to accelerate cleantech innovation. Jeanette is a frequent speaker, media guest, and advisor to industry and government.

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