Smart City: Ottawa’s Cleantech Ecosystem

By: Jonathan Milne
Managing Director, Innovation, Invest Ottawa
When people think clean technology companies, their minds traditionally jump to images of solar panels, wind turbines, and hydro water dams. This has recently shifted to include electric cars, smart thermostats, and LED lights. As we look forward, the definition of a clean technology company will expand, as the possibilities for their impact are enormous. Increasing demands for energy, concerns about the environment, and the sustainable use of resources are the driving forces behind the rise of various clean technologies. Numerous economic development reports predict that by 2020 the cleantech sector will be the third largest industry globally, and Canada is poised to be a leader in the development and advancement of this high-potential economic sector.
Canada’s capital is helping to grow this scene. In Ottawa, cleantech is represented by approximately 5,500 people and 200 companies, including top-ranked
Fortune 500 companies such as Waste Management, Johnson Controls, Wesco, Honeywell, and Enbridge. The wealth of talent in the region has helped give rise to Ottawa’s cleantech sector, whose breakout technologies are providing competitive and environmentally responsible solutions.
Ottawa also hosts a large concentration of clean energy and technology researchers in academia, federal labs, and private companies. This convergence of public, private, and academic expertise gives Ottawa a unique and competitive edge for those looking to further develop their technologies. As a result, many cleantech companies are drawn to this city because of its close proximity to these federal labs and researchers.
As we continue to build and foster the cleantech sector in Ottawa and, moreover, Canada, the push for incubators and accelerators is to help young companies find the early market adopters, likely within Smart Cities around the globe, that are ready to invest and take the leap forward. Smart Cities investing in these companies should also have a dramatic impact on society, albeit requiring new and significant investment cycles from government.
The future in cleantech is in Smart Cities and the key areas will be smarter power, smarter infrastructure, smarter data, smarter broadband access, smarter…
Yes we all need to get smarter!