Announcing the $1 million grand prize winner: Women in Cleantech Challenge
Accelerating game-changing cleantech innovations by women entrepreneurs
TORONTO, November 30, 2021 – MaRS Discovery District and Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) today announced the grand prize winner of the Women in Cleantech Challenge. The three-year program backed women cleantech entrepreneurs with financial, business and technical support as well as mentoring and access to top federal laboratories, customers and investors. After a rigorous evaluation process, Amanda Hall, founder and CEO of Calgary-based startup Summit Nanotech, was named the winner for achieving the most progress during the Challenge and the greatest market impact, as determined by an external jury of experts. She received the $1-million grand prize to further commercialize and grow Summit Nanotech with continued support from MaRS.
“I always tell my three daughters that hard work pays off and this Challenge is a testament to that,” said Hall. “I have the utmost respect for the other women in cleantech finalists. It is critically important for women to speak up when battling climate change, because the world is worth fighting for. This is an amazing opportunity for me to represent Canada’s women entrepreneurs.”
Since 2018, Summit Nanotech has secured a U.S.$10-million Series A financing round, grew from one to 16 employees, filed three patents, and launched a multi-client pilot program in Chile. The venture has also won six industry awards, including the Solar Impulse Efficiency Label.
“The Women in Cleantech Challenge doesn’t just seek to level the playing field for women; it seeks to inspire a new generation of women entrepreneurs and leaders to build our clean energy future,” said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources. “Diversity of thought is critical to innovation, and that’s why supporting more women entrepreneurs is more important than ever. Congratulations to Amanda Hall, and to all the finalists who are building Canada’s clean energy future.”
The Women in Cleantech Challenge was funded by NRCan to address the lack of representation in a sector where only 16 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women. According to the 2018 and 2019 National Cleantech Survey, only 19 percent of cleantech companies in Canada have at least one woman founder, while just one in 10 cleantech founders is a woman, and some subsectors, including energy efficiency and transportation, have even fewer women at the helm.
Over the past three years, the six finalists have made huge strides in terms of growth: attracting $52.5M in investments and a cumulative 82.5 employees. Inspired by that success, in the fall of 2021, MaRS and RBC have launched the inaugural RBC Women in Cleantech Accelerator to support a new diverse group of 10 women entrepreneurs in a year-long program with support from Federal research centres.
“The Women in Cleantech Challenge was designed to help mitigate the gender imbalance in cleantech and to scale six new high potential cleantech companies led by women. It is my pleasure to congratulate the grand prize winner, founder and CEO of Summit Nanotech, Amanda Hall,” said Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS. “And to all our finalists, we are absolutely thrilled at the remarkable progress that you have made in such a short period of time. Your work puts Canada’s climate innovation economy at the forefront at a time when we most need it, all while blazing the way for other incredibly talented women engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs. We are so proud to have worked with each of you over the past three years and look forward to the impact that you will make as you scale your companies.”
MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world.