By ARMAN KAZEMI
July 3, 2014
Canada has ranked among the top ten countries where “entrepreneurial clean technology companies are most likely to emerge” in the next decade.
The Global Cleantech Innovation Index, a joint study released by Cleantech Group and the World Wildlife Foundation, evaluated 40 countries, including all G20 nations, for their potential to support and commercialize innovation in the clean technology sector.
Countries were ranked on 15 indicators based on their investment spirit as well as commercial returns on cleantech innovation.
Canada scored seventh place along a normalized scale, showing “excellent general innovation inputs,” including strong venture capital investment and competitive investments in “emerging cleantech innovation.”
However, Canada scored poorly in its ability to commercialize cleantech innovations and continues to be “held back by small cleantech revenues,” when compared to its higher-ranked European and American counterparts.
While ranking low on the overall index, emerging economies like China, India and Brazil scored highly on the commercialization scale.
Like other top-performers in the ‘General Innovation’ category, Canadian cleantech entrepreneurs were identified as less driven to innovate based on immediate environmental motives such as pollution and climate-related infrastructural damage. Instead, Canadian cleantech thrives due to an environment that encourages a “culture and psychology” of innovation, with “the intrinsic value of entrepreneurship” a motivating factor in and of itself.
Strong commercializers like China and Brazil, on the other hand, “face pressure to address more visible environmental and resource problems” and therefore tend to have stronger economic and social pressures “to procure clean technology solutions.”
Israel was the top performer in the 2014 Index, followed by Finland and the United States.
According to the report, Israel emerged as “the cleantech innovation archetype for both embedding entrepreneurial spirit . . . into its society’s everyday norms as well as for predisposing its start-ups to resource innovation.” The report noted this achievement in spite of the country’s small domestic market and “sensitive geopolitical setting.”
In a WWF press release, Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, said that since the first Innovation Index was released in 2012, “we have seen a real increase in the disruptive start-ups we need to shrink our footprint on this planet.”
“Of course, much more needs to be done in every country and by investors,” she adds, “if we are to properly address climate change and achieve a transition towards a 100 per cent renewable energy future.”
Canada, despite its strong investment climate and entrepreneurial spirit, still needs to find ways of helping cleantech start-ups scale from novel innovation to commercial reality.