Cleantech in 2020 and into 2021: The New Reality of Sustainability

2020 will be a year to remember for generations to come, most obviously because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This caused widespread human suffering that is not limited to the lives lost to the virus, but also encompasses the quantum change in how we live our day-to-day lives.

The pandemic we are still facing also brought humanity together on many fronts, from quickly developing a new vaccine to address the virus to finding new ways to communicate virtually while the in-person connections we are used to aren’t possible. COVID also reshaped traditional ways of doing business, hosting meetings, and spending time with family and friends. Through all of these rapid changes, we were able to gain a better understanding of why we as humans need each other more in times of crisis and suffering, reaffirming that we are all connected to one another and the planet we share.

Businessman using a laptop with close up on world globe

The pandemic affected everything, causing widespread changes to the way we do business and live our day-to-day lives around the world.

This public health crisis reminded us of the importance of science and scientific research that contributes to protecting our environment and helping each other as people. Humanity was forced to reflect on what makes us different from the other creatures we share our world with, highlighting what made humankind successful in evolution in the first place. We are starting the new year with so much hope and looking forward to 2021 as a year that will bring better news for all of us, no matter which corner of the world we inhabit.

A Look Back at the Alacrity Cleantech Program in 2020

2020 was quite a fascinating year for the Alacrity Cleantech Program as we concluded the Alacrity Cleantech Scale-Up Program with successful results. Our portfolio companies attracted more than 45 million dollars of investment and achieved sales of over 25 million dollars in export markets. Cleantech portfolio companies also created more than 70 new high-quality jobs and hired talented young people from universities in British Columbia. With the motivation and learnings we had from this program, the team developed a new plan for helping the Western Canada Cleantech ecosystem discover new markets and mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

Last year was a year full of firsts for us. We organized our first online investor pitch event with the participation of seven portfolio companies. Seeing investors, innovators and funds attending from different markets proved that BC Cleantech companies have excellent growth potential. The second season of our podcast series called “Cleantech Talks” initiated new conversations with many industry leaders around Canada. Our growing national and international partnerships with SDTC, Foresight, MaRS, and the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) gave us good visibility of the cleantech industry from coast to coast to coast. We are planning to invest more time in these relations and promote our portfolio companies all around Canada and throughout the globe. The Alacrity Canada Cleantech Program also produced its first research report through the Mitacs program, thanks to our first intern. The report looks closely at the carbon market and examines future opportunities in this market as GHG emissions reduction and carbon offset are becoming more important globally.

Prioritizing Sustainable Growth

2020 also taught us all that we need a new way to look at sustainability. We developed a strong understanding of how we are all connected, even in this vast world. No one can run away from the hard truth of a pandemic only by protecting themselves; we have to protect and support everyone. Geographic distance and what used to be remote stories of human suffering somewhere far away have begun to be seen as universal experiences as we are all learning that we can’t close our eyes and think this trauma will not affect us in any way – we are all affected.

Small girl with dirty hands holding strawberry plant outdoors in garden, sustainable lifestyle concept.

2020 made it clear that we need to turn the tide on sustainability efforts now to make a difference for future generations.

Globalization, fast movement of capital and a desire to grow bigger and quicker took humanity to the point of an existential crisis, mostly felt and explained as environmental problems which are impacting larger areas around the world at a more frequent rate. 2020 has clearly shown that we need to work together to understand the full impact of these issues in our lives, creating more awareness and finding ways to turn the tide for ourselves and, more importantly, for future generations. This generation has a great responsibility to change how we interact with our environment for good, and as soon as possible. This responsibility makes our cleantech program targets that much more essential and critical, putting a lot of responsibility on us that’s both humbling and necessary.

What’s Ahead for the Alacrity Cleantech Program in 2021

In 2020, our team grew with new faces and we are looking forward to continuing our support of the cleantech discipline, helping companies and the industry as a whole grow in this new year. The second iteration of the Alacrity BC Cleantech Initiative will provide growing support in our designated markets of India, Mexico, Singapore and Northern Europe, while helping our portfolio companies with their marketing, sales development and business planning. Our team has worked on this program to provide intensive support to our cleantech portfolio companies, even when the world is under lockdown. We saw good first results of that effort as 2020 came to an end and are hoping to achieve even better results in 2021.

We closed 2020 with another outstanding achievement, which also gives us a new responsibility. The Alacrity Cleantech Program is administering the Recycled Plastics Manufacturing Stimulus Fund for the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. With this fund, we aim to increase the plastic recycling capacity of BC, reduce the use of virgin plastics, and support projects that aim to provide long-term circular processes that can keep plastics from going into our landfills and oceans.

Two young quality control managers discussing characteristics of white plastic pellets while one of them holding pile over large container

Increasing the use of PCR plastics like these pellets in manufacturing is one of the objectives of the RPMS Fund being administered by Alacrity Cleantech.

We all carry a responsibility to protect the earth and its natural beauty and resources, while moving forward with clean and sustainable technologies. Alacrity will be at the forefront of these efforts with the expertise we continue to cultivate in the cleantech space to help wherever we can.

We wish you all a great 2021. May it be better, brighter, and cleaner for everyone!

This post was written by Burak Evren, Cleantech Program Manager at Alacrity Canada.

January 19, 2021