Water seminar makes waves at MaRS

The next big wave of cleantech
The next big wave in cleantech: water

The next big wave of innovation is hitting the cleantech industry — and southern Ontario is well positioned to reap the benefits, according to a panel of cleantech experts last week at MaRS.

Deloitte and Ogilvy Renault, along with MaRS, hosted the latest in a Cleantech in Canada seminar series, including panelists from EnviroTower and Siemens Water Technologies, who shared their thoughts on emerging opportunities in the $375 billion global water market.

“Over the past two decades, Canada has established itself as the global leader in clean water technologies,” said John Ruffolo, national leader of Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Group. “Canada is also at the forefront of establishing North American energy independence, as we develop new, industry-leading oil and gas recovery technologies. Since these new energy technologies consume enormous amounts of water, they require the use of clean water solutions one hundred times greater than we have ever needed — which we are also developing in Canada.”

The Cleantech in Canada panel was moderated by David Henderson of XPV Capital, a Toronto-based investor focused on water-based opportunities. Panellists included:

  • John Coburn, Chairman & CEO, EnivroTower Inc.
  • Dr. Mark Shannon, Director, U.S. National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Advanced Materials for the Purification of Water with Systems
  • Debra Coy, VP and Research Analyst, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC
  • Joe Zuback, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, Siemens Water Technologies

Mr. Coburn noted that southern Ontario is rich with talent in product development, software and systems controls expertise in water. “When techies fall out of big companies they fall into the start-ups,” he said. “This area has real opportunity with the universities, technological support, IRAP and SDTC.”

Ms. Coy, who tracks the global water industry for a Philadelphia-based investment banking firm, sees the current recession generating potential positive side effects for the industry, as stimulus spending on infrastructure renewal will not only help economies pull out of the recession but also bring greater focus on technological innovation.

“Unfortunately, it does take a bit of a crisis mentality before change takes place,” Coy told the 200-plus professionals attending the seminar. “Having followed this industry for many years, I’m encouraged that the opportunities for small companies are probably greater than they have been.”

“The investment opportunities in clean water technology will come out of necessity. They will be global and they will be lasting,” said Rick Sutin, senior partner at Ogilvy Renault and co-chair of the firm’s cleantech practice. “Water is not an optional resource we can simply wean ourselves off.”

Read more about the seminar at: www.businessgreen.com: “Water waste demands private-public co-operation”