Alacrity Insights into Clean Tech Partnerships in China

This March, Richard Egli (Managing Director of Alacrity Canada) and Peter Van der Gracht (Alacrity Senior Mentor and Chairman of Quantotech) joined Henry Wu (Director of Alacrity China) and Siyuan Zao (Cleantech Consultant specializing in China) to represent Alacrity Canada on a trip to Shanghai, Tianjin, and Beijing.

The purpose of this trip was to explore the demand for cleantech innovation in the Chinese market for Alacrity Canada’s new Cleantech Scale-Up Program. This new program helps connect BC cleantech companies with groups in China to drive revenue and investment. This successful trip resulted in two MOU’s and plenty of takeaways for Canadian companies and investors in the cleantech sector looking to develop partnerships in China.

Our Alacrity representatives focused on meeting with and getting to know the wants and needs of six different types of groups, all of which have a mandate to work with international technology companies to help solve China’s environmental challenges:

  1. Municipal government representatives (*In China, governments are one of the main purchasers in the cleantech sector)
  2. Regional and industry focused cleantech innovation groups (*These groups are very focused on finding environmental protection technology that can be deployed to China)
  3. Clean tech consultants and investors.
  4. Private sector industrial cleantech conglomerate groups.
  5. Federal and provincial government representatives. (*It is very important to know the right local representatives and be supported by them before trying to start a business in China)
  6. Shanghai’s top incubator / accelerator, SPSP.

While in Shanghai, our team met with the Julong Group, a leader in China’s palm oil industry that has three priorities related to cleantech: addressing fresh water quality, addressing intercity noise pollution, and addressing the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect that is increasingly expanding in Shanghai. Richard keynoted a 150 forum that discussed the opportunity of working with cleantech companies in Canada.  The conversations went very well. So well, in fact, that Alacrity signed an MOU to continued collaboration with the Julong Research Centre.

Peter Van der Gracht, Chairman of QuantoTech, also enjoyed positive meetings with the Chinese partners. Quantotech, which supplies energy efficient and environment-friendly LED lights to commercial growers, signed an MOU with large industrial conglomerate CASIC to supply a pilot of LED lighting technology to support industrial agriculture across China.

Key Insights and Takeaways:

  1. “There are 4 issues that the clean tech market in China wants solved. The number one issue that we identified in the cleantech market of China is water quality. That includes public drinking water, waste water and ground water. The other high priorities include soil remediation (due to constant industrial activities), air purification (to counteract pollution and VOC’s volatile organic compounds) and finding ways re-use waste to create energy (recycling, biomass, etc.)
  2. “Always work with the right local partners – there’s been many failures of companies trying to enter the Chinese market without the support and cooperation of local partners. It’s a very challenging business environment where companies are strongly linked to the government. You need to find partners that are able to navigate that complexity.”
  3. “The companies in China are large scale and don’t have time to deal with prototypes. They need to see pilot programs on the ground where they can see the technology working first hand.”
  4. “Most companies first hesitation when thinking of entering the Chinese market is the protection of intellectual property. Thankfully, China is now starting to adhere to international trademark law because they have become significant owners of international IP. Because this process is still slow, every group coming in has to stay aware and take necessary precautions, but there is already a visible positive trend.”


Alacrity’s Cleantech Scale-Up program helps BC cleantech companies (that already have a product in market but want increase their number of international sales) by utilizing our global network of 10 worldwide offices to drive export revenue and growth capital. The Alacrity model involves working closely with a small number of companies by providing them one on one mentorship with expert advisers, facilitating introductions, and provide soft landing pads in regions that have demonstrated demand for cleantech innovation (such as China, India and Mexico).

Get in touch with us at if you’d like to learn more or get involved.

April 18, 2018