Canada’s tech sector is racing toward a sustainable future

October 12, 20174 Minute Read

In September, cyclists from around the world descended on Quebec to pedal the Grande Prix Cyclistes, pushing their way through a gruelling 200-km circuit in one of the biggest cycling races in the world. Quebec is the perfect backdrop for the Grand Prix: It just promised millions to jump-start sustainable technology development and spur the business community to push itself as hard as the cyclists themselves. But Quebec isn’t the only province trying out this approach to sustainability.

While Quebec has been making big moves, a recent uptick in awareness of the dangers of climate change has prompted real action across most of the country. From Vancouver to Halifax, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is trying to spark progress by investing in everything from infrastructure to public outreach to advanced future-tech. With all that investment, it’s no wonder that more and more new ideas in tech are emerging, each with the potential to help sustain the global future.

Cash for innovation

In July, the Government of Canada announced a major new funding initiative aimed at encouraging innovation in the energy, mining, and waste treatment sectors of Quebec, together responsible for a huge proportion of a community’s environmental impact.

One company, E2Metrix, is developing a technology that can significantly lower concentrations of phosphorus and ammonia in municipal waste, leading to both cheaper and safer disposal. Another, FlyScan Systems Inc., wants to use modern science to better detect and seal leaks in the oil and gas pipelines that crisscross our continent.

In Halifax, a company named Sustane Technologies recently received $2.6 million in funding to develop clean energy technology. Sustane’s idea is to take Canada’s abundant landfills and process the fermented waste they contain to make cheap, recycled materials and clean-burning, combustible fuels. Yet another Nova Scotian innovation involves reducing the construction industry’s incredible carbon output by reducing the amount of carbon released in the production and setting of concrete.

The government’s latest round of funding amounts to over $7.8 million in investment to a small assortment of promising businesses. That’s just a drop in the bucket: In the next five years, the government aims to dedicate $400 million to the country’s Sustainable Development Tech Fund. But a huge infusion of cash can’t be spent in just one province—so it’s pretty difficult to find an area of the country that isn’t seeing real investment in sustainable technology development.

Sustainable business (in more ways than one)

Of course, domestic concerns are just as serious as wide-ranging global threats, and, thankfully, experts believe sustainable technology is becoming one of the strongest growth industries in the world. Whenever the government invests in sustainable technology development, it’s also looking to foster the well-paying jobs new technologies can bring. Sustainability doesn’t just impact the environment—it can help Canadian businesses survive in a fast-moving global market, too.

That interconnection between sustainability and the economy is why so many Canadian businesses are stepping up to help tackle these issues on their own. Sure, this could mean newly advanced tech projects like those above, but just as often it means shoring up an aging business structure with existing solutions to problems like clean energy generation. Companies focusing on sustainability in their internal processes before they’re someday required to do so by law can position themselves to truly take advantage of the next generation of technology markets—not to mention the government’s next wave of sustainability-focused funding, grants, and tax incentives.

Don’t get left behind

Every company should be looking for ways to incorporate sustainable innovations into their business practices. And if yours isn’t, you should get on that—ASAP. It’s not just about reducing monthly overhead for things like power and waste disposal, or even about helping humanity survive global climate change. It’s about positioning the company to thrive in a market increasingly oriented toward sustainability.

When you’re looking at each environmentally relevant cost to your business, ask yourself: If the government were willing to foot up to a third of potentially millions in costs to address this impact, what sorts of sustainable projects could be considered? From exhaust filtration to waste treatment to solar power generation, there are innumerable projects that could help a business financially, while also appealing to SDTC’s sensibilities. And if it still seems out of reach, think about finding a partner to provide a truly innovative technological solution to your company’s issue.

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of Canadians looking for venues to test out their big, ambitious tech ideas. All you have to do is give them one.

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