B.C. cleantech industry calls on Trudeau to launch $500m venture capital fund

B.C.’s clean-technology leaders are urging Ottawa in an open letter to boost industry spending by the billions and develop a national cleantech strategy before Canada falls further behind the global competition. 

B.C.’s clean-technology leaders are urging Ottawa in an open letter to boost industry spending by the billions and develop a national cleantech strategy before Canada falls further behind the global competition.

The open letter signed Monday (February 29) by 50 CEOs representing the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance comes a day before the Globe 2016 conference kicks off in Vancouver.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to address the conference Wednesday (March 2).

“While Canada's cleantech industry has shown impressive growth in absolute terms, we are losing global market share to increasing competition from the United States, China, Germany, Singapore, Israel and other jurisdictions that are investing billions to compete in the global race for cleantech talent and capital,” write the CEOs.

Citing figures from the 2015 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report, the letter goes on to say Canada has fallen from 14th to 19th in terms of total market share of the clean tech industry since 2008.

“Canada faces a critical decision: to invest in the continued growth of cleantech and the path to sustainable prosperity, or to hold back and see our leadership eroded as other countries develop the technologies of the future,” write the CEOs.

The open letter asks the federal government to expand available tax credits and establish a $1-billion cleantech loan guarantee program to finance the initial commercial deployments of new technologies for power generation, carbon capture, water treatment and food production.

The CEOs also push Ottawa to invest $1.25 billion into the Sustainable Development Technology Canada fund and invest another $500 million to launch a cleantech venture capital fund.

To manage all the proposals, the CEOs are asking Trudeau to launch a federal cleantech task force comprised of government representatives and the private sector. The task force would be responsible for creating a national cleantech strategy by June 30.

The BC Cleantech CEO Alliance is the same group behind a $100-million cleantech fund launched last month.

That fund is being managed by Vancouver’s Evok Innovations, which itself is a partnership between the CEO group and Calgary energy giants Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) and Suncor Energy (TSX:SU).

Members of the CEO alliance include the heads of General Fusion, Ballard Power Systems, Westport Innovations and Axine Water Technologies.

torton@biv.com

@reporton