Now in its third year, the Clean50 initiative recognizes outstanding contributors to sustainable development and clean capitalism in Canada. This year, the Delta Management Group has honoured 50 individuals and small teams for their dedication to clean technologies and sustainability, along with 15 top projects, expanded from last year’s five. Among the honourees this year are several MaRS clients, a cleantech advisor and Tower Labs @ MaRS.

MaRS is all about creating an ecosystem of innovation, bringing entrepreneurs, industries, financial and legal services, and capital together with experienced advisors and other resources to help companies commercialize their technologies and develop successful businesses. So it may be of little surprise that one of my favourite aspects of the Clean50 is that they take a similar approach to their honourees, celebrating not only entrepreneurs and industry leaders, but also all of the different stakeholders in Canada’s cleantech economy.

People are placed in 16 separate categories, from advocates to consultants, educators to financial services and primary resources to manufacturing and transportation. This broad look at the ecosystem is important because each part builds off of others to contribute to creating the $9 billion clean technology industry we have in Canada (as of 2010). Perhaps more importantly, we are going to need all of these contributors if we are going to grow the market to the predicted $3 trillion globally by 2020 (Analytica Advisors).

Sector-leading technologies

Pulse EnergyStarting with our clients, David Helliwell, the co-founder and CEO of Pulse Energy, was one of three individuals honoured in Clean50’s clean technology category. Pulse Energy has developed a software platform that allows utilities to engage with their commercial customers to help them understand and manage their electricity consumption. Pulse Energy has gained recognition and traction across both North America and Europe for its software. Pulse Energy, in collaboration with SES Consulting, was also named one of Canada’s Clean50 top 15 projects.

ZerofootprintAlso focused on energy data, Ron Dembo, the founder and CEO of Zerofootprint, was one of this year’s honourees in the technology, telecom and media category. Zerofootprint’s VELO platform encourages consumer engagement and conservation in a variety of areas, including electricity consumption, carbon footprinting, and fleet and fuel optimization. Zerofootprint has won several awards for its software, including the Popular Choice Award Grand Prize in the Apps for Energy contest hosted by the United States Department of Energy.

Switching sectors completely, we have SYLLETA’s CEO, Nikhil Gunari, and CTO, Gilbert Walker, who were honoured in the research and development category. They have designed MACROBLOCK, an environmentally friendly and better performing antifouling technology. The company is targeting the aquaculture and shipping industries, where biofouling is a multi-billion dollar challenge. In an aquaculture context, Macroblock 1 is applied to the nets that enclose farmed fish, helping prevent seaweed and other materials from adhering to them, and thereby improving the water quality and the overall environment for the fish. After completing testing in the Bay of Fundy, SYLLETA was recently accepted into the Start-Up Chile program.

Experience, passion and dedication

Peter Love, a long-standing MaRS advisor, was honoured in the traditional energy generation category. Peter has a long history of engagement in Ontario’s energy ecosystem and is a strong advocate for energy-efficient solutions that are fiscally and environmentally responsible. Peter teaches energy-efficiency policy at York University, is a founding board member for Rethink Sustainability and is president of the Energy Services Association of Canada.

Demonstration and proving technologies

Tower Labs @ MaRS is a non-profit organization that spun out of Tridel, the largest condo developer in Toronto, through president and founder Jamie James’ leadership and dedication. Tower Labs accelerates the adoption of technologies and services that enhance green buildings and green building products.

Subhi Alsayed, Innovation Manager from Tridel and TowerLabs @ MaRS
Subhi Alsayed, Innovation Manager with Tridel and TowerLabs @ MaRS

The company has gathered support from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, Ontario Power Authority, Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada and the City of Toronto to further support its mission. Thus far, Tower Labs has supported over a dozen companies and has demonstrated their technologies on Tridel buildings. Jamie, along with Greg Nevison, senior vice-president of construction at Tridel, were honoured in the building, design and development category.

The importance of an ecosystem

Considering even just the MaRS-associated honourees of the Clean50, we see a cross-section of the cleantech industry in Canada. The three innovative companies above have all developed potentially game-changing technologies and, with the right advisors and advocates, like Peter Love, we’ll see more of these technologies implemented in Ontario and abroad. Before a company can secure customers they must demonstrate their technology, and groups like Tower Labs @ MaRS are crucial for achieving this.

A heartfelt congratulations to all of this year’s Clean50 honourees! Thank you for your continued work in advancing clean technology in Canada.

Jennifer Minelli

Jennifer manages the accelerating ventures program at MaRS, supporting high-growth ventures in the cleantech, health and information & communications technology (ICT) sectors.See more…