Canada Challenges Women Entrepreneurs to Lead Our Cleantech Future and Win $1 Million

News release

May 10, 2018                           Ottawa, Ontario                           Natural Resources Canada

Women are underrepresented in the innovation economy, and the Government of Canada plans to change that.

Only five percent of Canadian tech companies have a sole woman founder or CEO, and only 13 percent of companies have a woman co-founder.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, today unveiled a nationwide challenge for Canada’s aspiring woman cleantech entrepreneurs and innovators to submit their ideas to tackle the world’s most difficult energy and environmental challenges.

The Women in Cleantech Challenge offers five women an extraordinary opportunity to develop their idea into a marketable world-class cleantech solution and compete for a $1 million prize. The Challenge focuses on the development of new solutions in areas such as climate change, green growth and applying new technologies to reduce negative environmental impacts.

Delivered in collaboration with MaRS Discovery District, the world’s largest urban innovation hub and a leader transforming breakthrough ideas into successful, global companies, the Challenge will help level the playing field for Canadian women in the area of clean technology.

Applicants will be assessed by a six-member jury — including an honorary juror — who bring expertise and experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), clean technology, business development and environmental awareness. Renowned Canadian novelist and environmental activist Margaret Atwood will serve as the honorary juror.

The Women in Cleantech Challenge is the first of five exciting challenges that will be launched in the coming months under Natural Resources Canada’s Cleantech Impact program, part of Impact Canada, a whole-of-government effort to deliver meaningful results for Canadians through measurable economic, environmental and social outcomes. Cleantech Impact will invest $75 million over four years in the five challenges.

Visit for details, and apply by July 13, 2018.


“This challenge is a game-changer, eliminating barriers for women who for too long have been underrepresented, particularly in STEM fields. We are giving Canada’s women cleantech entrepreneurs and innovators the chance to solve some of today’s toughest environmental issues. I encourage all women with a viable cleantech idea to take up the Challenge and help lead Canada’s cleantech future.”

The Honourable Jim Carr
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

“For too long, women entrepreneurs and innovators have been underrepresented in the cleantech industry. The search is now on for women-led cleantech innovations that will address climate change, spur more green growth and use technologies to reduce negative environmental impacts, while creating good middle-class jobs. This nationwide search supports the goals of the nearly $2 billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy which was announced in Budget 2018. Because we know that when women succeed, everyone succeeds. ”

The Honourable Bardish Chagger
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

 “The Government of Canada must be bold, ambitious and inventive when tackling difficult challenges. As it moves forward with this newest Impact Canada Initiative, I am pleased to be part of an approach that will help empower aspiring women cleantech entrepreneurs while also helping government deliver meaningful results to Canadians. I look forward to the creative solutions developed as part of this challenge and to seeing the ideas of Canada's best and brightest entrepreneurs and innovators come to life.”

The Honourable Karina Gould
MP for Burlington

“Women are a powerful force in Canada’s innovation economy but are significantly underrepresented in the cleantech sector. This challenge will identify and showcase the top women innovators from across the country who are solving deep technical challenges that benefit both our environment and our economy.”

Yung Wu
CEO of MaRS Discovery District

Quick facts

  • Five women entrepreneurs will each receive support valued at more than $800,000 through:

    • business incubator support valued at $300,000 from MaRS
    • the opportunity to work with federal labs to develop their technology — up to $250,000 value
    •  an annual $115,000 stipend for living and travel expenses


    After a two-and-a-half-year incubation period at MaRS, the five entrepreneurs will vie for the $1 million prize to invest in their new cleantech businesses.

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Associated links

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Office of the Minister of Natural Resources

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Natural Resources Canada

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