Get ready for CleanTech North

First, we were “Hollywood North”, propelled by tax incentives and dollar value differentials. Large portions of the film industry left southern California to set up shop in Toronto, Vancouver and other parts of Canada that had a similar look and feel to iconic locations in the US. During the dot-bomb boom, we were “Silicon Valley North”, with all the hype of the web bubble transforming the way business was to be done forever.

Now, get ready for “Cleantech North”! Much like the predecessors, a wave of innovation, transformation and commercialization is headed our way. This time the growth is centered around emission-free energy, “smart grids”, non-toxic building & manufacturing materials and sustainable packaging.

Enter the Cleantech North Consortium, a cluster of companies with an interest in this emerging field. The CNC hosted a lunch and panel discussion at the recent Green Living Show, informing an enthusiastic crowd of business professionals of the latest trends and issues in the local Cleantech/Sustainability business community. Moderated by Sean Duggan, VP – HUB International, the panel featured: Sandra Odendahl – Director of  Corporate Environmental Affairs for RBC, Melissa Alvares – Sustainability Programs Manager for Softchoice, Rick Huijbregts  – VP  Business Development for CISCO Canada and Debbie Baxter – VP Corporate Sustainability for LoyaltyOne (Air Miles).

Money was the overriding topic of discussion for the panel, as they discussed the payback of energy reduction and the need for incenting technology executives for efficiency. The panellists also revealed their companies’ spending priorities on the sustainability front, with investment in energy reduction technologies and software being the most popular area to invest.

This latest growth sector has all of the signposts of previous economic expansion drivers, coupled with a fundamental desire to improve our quality of life along with our standard of living. For our own well-being, let’s hope the “Cleantech Boom” continues to prosper.


Randy Tyrrell is the Founder and Managing Director of Toronto Greenhouse, a business forum for “green companies” and friends of the environment.  Toronto Greenhouse hosts a monthly networking event with topical speakers and offers environmentally sustainable business consulting services.