Second Annual Clean Tech Leadership Summit


Speaking Notes

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, PC, MP
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Ottawa, Ontario
May 3, 2017

Check Against Delivery

Thank you very much, Jason [Jason Lee, member of the Board of Directors, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)], for that kind introduction.

I addressed this conference last year.

And it’s my pleasure to join you again for this year’s summit.

Let me begin by thanking Leah Lawrence [President and CEO, SDTC] and Jim Balsillie [Chairman of the Board of Directors, SDTC].

Under their leadership, Sustainable Development Technology Canada is putting this country’s clean tech companies on the world map.

I also want to congratulate the entire team at SDTC for bringing together Canada’s clean tech leaders to plan the path forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here today to share with you the details of our government’s Innovation and Skills Plan and how it benefits those of you who are developing new solutions in clean tech.

The Innovation and Skills Plan is a strategy to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation.

It will create more well-paying jobs for the middle class and ensure that all Canadians have the skills they need to thrive in the new economy.

This plan will allow Canada to develop a workforce that can compete based on advanced and specialized skills.

It will also encourage Canadians to develop a culture of lifelong learning.

I am confident that with this plan, Canada will attract more talent and develop stronger public-private partnerships.

I am also confident that a new generation of Canadian firms—including some of those represented in this room today—will develop into globally competitive successes.

Ladies and gentlemen, many of us in this room keep a close eye on Canada’s economic vital signs.

These days, Canada is increasingly rare among nations.

We have a stable and growing economy.

And according to the International Monetary Fund, our economy will be the second-fastest growing among G7 nations for this year and the next.

This growth benefits Canadians.

We’ve seen incredible gains in the number of full-time jobs added to the economy—more than 250,000 since last fall.

This pace of growth did not happen by chance.

Our government is making the smart and responsible investments that have resulted in better jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.

Indeed, we have targeted our investments in high-growth areas where Canada is a world leader.

Clean tech is one of those areas.

Clean tech reflects our government’s commitment to protecting the planet.

But it also points to a clear and strategic direction for economic development through innovation.

Why? Because innovations in clean tech lead to products and services that have an impact on all sectors of the economy.

And clean tech has the potential to create thousands of well-paying jobs for Canadians.

In fact, a recent report by KPMG indicated that an average clean tech job in British Columbia pays $84,000 a year.

I want to highlight that the Innovation and Skills Plan responds to the issues that clean tech entrepreneurs have identified as barriers to the growth of their companies.

One of those barriers is access to long-term financing.

That’s why government needs to be an investor at every stage, from technology development to scale-up and market expansion.

To address this need, Budget 2017 commits nearly $1.4 billion in new financing for clean tech.

This funding will be allocated through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.

Of the $1.4 billion in new financing, $380 million will be allocated for equity investments to help companies scale up and avoid the valley of death faced by firms with longer product-development cycles.

Another $570 million will be set aside for working capital to support investments in assets, inventory and talent.

An additional $450 million will be available to finance first-of-their-kind projects in Canada and international markets.

We will actively work with BDC and EDC to ensure that this funding supports firms throughout their life cycle, creates more middle-class jobs and helps Canadian companies grow beyond our borders.

This approach will ensure that Canada develops and retains its world-class expertise in clean tech engineering, design, marketing and management.

That’s where SDTC comes in.

It plays a critical role as a catalyst for early-stage innovation.

That’s why our government is investing $400 million over five years to recapitalize the SD Tech Fund.

Many of you know from experience that this fund is very effective.

To date, it has invested in 320 projects and created more than 9,200 jobs.

Through the projects it supports, the fund has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 6.3 megatonnes per year.

I’d like to take a moment to recognize a few of the many successful recipients of SDTC funding.

One of them is CarbonCure from Nova Scotia.

This company has developed a technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions in concrete blocks.

These blocks are then used to retrofit buildings.

Another success is Carbon Engineering from B.C.

This company is commercializing technology to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.

Those emissions are then used to produce ultra-low carbon fuels.

A third success is Quantiam Technologies from Alberta.

This company’s technology allows the petrochemical sector to operate its furnaces at extremely high heat without producing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

With our government’s investments, these companies and many others will be better positioned to grow beyond our borders.

A second barrier to growth for clean tech companies is access to markets.

The Government of Canada can play a key role by being an early adopter of clean tech innovations.

For young and growing companies, having government as a first customer has much more strategic value than the size of the contract they receive.

That early validation by government can change the trajectory of a firm.

That’s why Budget 2017 proposes a new procurement program called Innovative Solutions Canada.

It will create more opportunities for businesses to develop innovations that address the pressing challenges of government.

This program will provide small and medium-sized businesses with a platform to develop and test new products and services.

It shows that the Government of Canada is willing to take risks and bet on new ideas.

We’re also willing to be a strong partner in your growth.

In return, our government will have access to the most innovative products and services.

We will also become more open and flexible in adopting new technologies.

There’s a third barrier to growth faced by clean tech entrepreneurs.

And that’s the cumbersome process of navigating the patchwork of government programs that are meant to support you.

Budget 2017 addresses this complication through the creation of Innovation Canada.

This new single-window service will bring all the government’s business innovation programs together.

The goal is to make it easier and more effective for Canadian innovators to access these programs.

As part of this effort, a Clean Growth Hub will be created to streamline services for you and connect you to international markets.

Our government will also lead the development of economic growth strategies in key sectors, including clean tech.

The goal is to improve coordination and track the impact across government of our innovation support programs for clean tech.

The final barrier to growth—and the one that poses the biggest obstacle to your success—is access to talent.

Without the people with the right skills and experience to drive innovation, companies cannot succeed.

That’s why we introduced the Global Skills Strategy.

Starting June 12, you will be able to quickly recruit specialized and in-demand talent from around the world to Canada.

And you’ll be able to do so within a matter of weeks rather than months.

This program will be a game-changer.

It will give Canada an advantage over competitors when it comes to attracting top talent from around the globe.

Finally, the Innovation and Skills Plan will ensure that Canadians thrive at every stage of their work lives, whether they are recent graduates just entering the workforce or have been working for 15 years.

That’s why Budget 2017 proposes new funding for more Canadians to participate in work-integrated learning and to develop skills in digital learning and in science, technology, engineering and math.

We have also introduced comprehensive changes to help working adults upgrade their skills.

That’s how Canadians will be equipped with the skills they need to work in innovative sectors such as clean tech.

Ladies and gentlemen, these policies not only show our government’s commitment to clean tech but also demonstrate the role of innovation in driving growth in Canada’s economy.

But we can do more.

For example, we are developing a national strategy on intellectual property.

Having ownership of the ideas and solutions that Canadians create is critical in a knowledge economy.

We can do more to ensure investments made in research and development go beyond invention to result in innovations that benefit Canadians.

We need to create a culture in which policies and business strategies are developed with this in mind.

Finally, we can do more to ensure that Canadian clean tech firms seize the opportunities created by the $21.9 billion that will be invested in green infrastructure.

This investment is part of our government’s long-term infrastructure plan.

That means we need everyone in this room to devote time to connecting with one another to build a strong public-private framework and coordinate efforts for Canada to reach its full innovation potential.

We listened. We delivered. Now let’s make it happen.

Thank you.

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