Women of all backgrounds are a powerful force in Canada’s innovation economy
But they’re significantly underrepresented in the area of clean technology. It’s time to change that. Building on the success of the inaugural Women in Cleantech Challenge, MaRS launched and is powering the RBC Women in Cleantech Accelerator, a program guided by principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as a commitment to the planet.
Our collective mission
To seek out and help a diverse group of women advance breakthrough ideas into market-ready cleantech products with the potential for global impact.
Tackling the gender issue
While Canadians are world leaders in cleantech innovation, the community must change to match Canada’s own diversity. Some key figures:
- Only one in 10 cleantech founders is a woman.
- Only 19 percent of Canadian cleantech companies have at least one female founder.
- Still, the green products and services space boasts the highest proportion of women founders.
Our program recruits 7-10 outstanding women every 2 years
The RBC Women in Cleantech Accelerator has five main objectives:
- Seek out the best, most driven women entrepreneurs, balanced with BIPOC representation.
- Enable their dedication to the mission.
- Leverage existing federal research assets and networks of expertise, maximizing use of existing public resources to advance their R&D goals.
- Build support for their success via a curated mix of mentorship, educational programming and access to market intelligence.
- Make timely connections to the investors and corporate partners that matter.
As part of this exclusive cohort, you get access to:
- A lead business advisor with deep sector knowledge to help build your business and develop your product.
- Potential no-cost opportunity to work with a federal government lab facility that is matched to your specific R&D needs.
- Significantly enhanced profile through the RBC Women in Cleantech brand, including highlights in press releases and industry events focused on cleantech.
- The curated curriculum was designed with feedback from MaRS subject-matter experts and alumni of the program, with the goal of helping your company gain an edge in markets that are hard to crack.
- Curated introductions to domestic and international investors and corporations.
- Access to mentor networks through investor showcases and curated events with influential women business leaders and industry experts.
- Opportunity to build relationships with other selected ventures, as well as the accelerator alumni.
- Potential to participate in the Canadian Tech Accelerators program(s) organized by Global Affairs Canada (Trade Commissioner Service) to introduce you to opportunities in key U.S. markets.
- Access to market intelligence, capital, talent and communications services offered through MaRS, North America’s largest urban innovation hub based in Toronto.
Who are we looking for?
- Woman-identifying and/or non-binary leaders who are working to commercialize a cleantech innovation with potential for global impact.
- You are the leader of a business that is registered as a Canadian corporation.
- You are looking to join a two-year intensive program to help accelerate the growth of your company.
Application for the next cohort will be launched in Spring 2024
- You identify as a woman and/or non-binary person.
- You are the main technology innovator or individual leading/co-leading a Canadian business.
- You are part of a business venture that is registered as a Canadian corporation.
In addition to applicant eligibility, your technological innovation should:
- Fall under the definition of “cleantech” which, for the purposes of this Accelerator, is defined as “A company that is focused on the creation of intellectual property and new products that protect and/or increase efficient utilization of land, energy, water and natural resources while improving economic performance and reducing the environmental footprint relative to the baseline.”
- Be proprietary and/or patentable.
- Have potential to scale globally for major impact.
Fall within TRL3 and TRL5 on the nine-point Technology Readiness Level spectrum
- TRL3: active research and development is initiated
- TRL4: basic testing to validate the technology in a laboratory/controlled setting
- TRL5: component and/or validation in a simulated environment
In partnership with
Our advisors are some of Canada’s foremost cleantech experts.
Partner, Evok Innovations
Jane is a partner at Evok Innovations. She was previously Vice President, Growth Services, and Senior Advisor, Cleantech, at MaRS Discovery District. She is a recognized leader in sustainable innovation and has extensive experience growing successful companies at the intersection of business and sustainability. She co-founded, grew and profitably sold a renewable energy company, and leverages over 20 years of experience in venture capital, cleantech and sustainability to help build businesses that matter. Jane is a co-founder of the CanadaCleantech Alliance, sits on the board of Clear Blue Technologies International (TSXV: CBLU), is an advisory board member for StandUp Ventures and Amplify Ventures, and is a member of the Expert Panel on Clean Growth for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. She is a Cleantech and Energy faculty member at Singularity University, and holds an MBA from Columbia University.
Senior Director, Cleantech
Tyler Hamilton is senior director of cleantech at MaRS and guides all climate-related activities for ventures, corporate partners and investors, including the flagship Mission from MaRS program. Previous to joining MaRS, Tyler spent two decades as a journalist and wrote extensively about Canada’s clean technology sector and global cleantech trends. Most recently he was editor-in-chief of business and sustainability magazine Corporate Knights. He also spent 13 years at the Toronto Star, where he reported on Canada’s energy sector and wrote a popular weekly column on clean energy technologies and trends. In 2011, Tyler authored Mad Like Tesla, a book that examines the various barriers to clean energy innovation and surveys the landscape of some potentially world-changing clean technologies. A recipient of the Cleantech Group’s “Pioneer” award for his early writings on the sector, Tyler was also recognized in 2016 on Canada’s “Clean50” list for his thought leadership on clean energy and climate issues.
senior manager, Cleantech Venture Services
Leah is the Senior Manager, Cleantech Venture Services at MaRS where she works closely with the MaRS cleantech portfolio, connecting them to the capital they require to grow. Prior to MaRS, Leah worked at Export Development Canada (EDC), where she spent nearly seven years helping SMEs along their growth journey, including several years on EDC’s Cleantech Team. Leah is passionate about providing equal opportunity for women in business and life and as an avid hockey player also volunteers with the Grindstone Award Foundation to raise awareness and funds that support grant-making to female hockey players. Leah holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University in Sustainability and Social Impact and Innovation.
Senior Advisor, MaRS Enterprise
An entrepreneur angel investor, Jenny brings vast experience to the Enterprise team. Prior to joining MaRS, she was co-founder and CEO of Aida (acquired by Vision Critical) and Metafor Software (acquired by Splunk). Jenny also worked for BDC Capital where she led investments in technology startups, and was a consultant with both the Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company. Jenny holds a bachelor of applied science in electrical engineering from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from INSEAD.
Senior Advisor, Cleantech
Rick is a leader in the Canadian cleantech sector, a serial entrepreneur, and angel investor. He serves as a Senior Advisor to the cleantech sector at MaRS Discovery District. Rick is also a Director and CEO of Aclarus Ozone Water Systems, a Director of Sentry Water Monitoring Technologies, a partner with Toronto based private equity investment group 1440 Capital, and past Chair of the Board of WaterTAP Ontario, the province’s water technology accelerator until 2019. Aclarus Ozone engineers and produces globally leading ozone-based water and wastewater treatment technology and solutions for municipal, industrial, and commercial use, now in over 1000 applications in 9 countries. Sentry Water Monitoring Technologies provides advanced biologic monitoring systems. The SENTRY water sensor platform is a disruptive solution for real-time monitoring of microbial activity in smart water and wastewater treatment applications. They are installed in China, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America. From 2002 to 2018 he was President and founding CEO of UV Pure Technologies, a Canadian environmental technology company that develops and manufactures advanced UV water disinfection technology. It has an installed base of over 19,000 applications globally. Prior to UV Pure, Rick founded several public and private companies and was a member and Director of the Young Presidents’ Organization, in Toronto. He has a BA in Astro-geophysics from Colgate University, a MEd from St. Lawrence University, and is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business’ Institute of Corporate Directors program.
SVP, Marketing, Business Development and Growth
Mark Hyland is SVP of Marketing, Business Development & Growth, where he is responsible for marketing & communications, content development, product strategy & lead generation and business development. Since 2019, Mark has been advising ventures as an Executive-in-residence, and most recently leading Business Development at MaRS. Mark is an operator, entrepreneur and investor who specializes in starting and scaling businesses. He has over 25 years’ experience in tech and media, including more than 11 years as a sales and marketing executive at Quickplay. Mark is known for driving international expansion and streamlining sales processes. As an investor, he is the general partner for High Park Angels, a fund for early-stage B2B startups. Mark’s early work experience includes a number of firsts: launching web-based advertising in Canada at Shift magazine, expanding the web presence and digital video syndication strategy at CBC, and forging several cross-media interactive TV experiences for programs like Hockey Night in Canada, and social media pioneer ZeD. Mark holds undergraduate degrees from McGill University and Dalhousie University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Senior Advisor, Health
Richard brings over 20 years of experience as a pharmaceutical industry executive, having led the development of innovative drugs, biologics, medical devices and combination products in several therapeutic areas, including metabolic diseases, regenerative medicine, bone repair and orthopaedics, haematology and nicotine addiction. Throughout his career, he has been responsible for overseeing all aspects of the product development process, from basic research, preclinical safety and toxicology, and clinical research to chemistry, manufacturing and regulatory submissions in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has extensive experience in the management of intellectual property, having successfully defended against and challenged competitors’ claims. Highlights
- Chief Operating Officer at Nicogen Inc.
- Chief Scientific Officer at ApoPharma Inc, a division of Apotex Inc.
- Director, Drug Development at Allelix Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (later NPS Pharmaceuticals)
- Co-founder of the Advanced Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering Consortium
- Served on the Scientific Advisory Committees of Cangene Corporation and Apotex Research
- PhD and Honors B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Toronto
Senior Advisor, Cleantech
Harvey Coleman has over 40 years of experience in the IT industry. In the mid-1980s he headed pre-sales support for banking systems and was responsible for marketing strategy for the Olivetti Group. Beginning in 1987 he spent 10 years variously responsible as managing director of the Acorn Group PLC, president of Olivetti Canada; president of Dell Canada; and executive vice-president of Geac Computer Corporation, a Canadian-based global software company. In the last 10 years Harvey has worked as an independent consultant to a variety of hardware, software, services, telecommunications and Internet-based companies, particularly startups, where he has also operated as an interim executive in a variety of senior roles. Harvey completed his degree in physics at Oxford University. He is married and has three children. Highlights
- Executive vice-president, Geac Computer Corporation
- Owner and principal consultant, Coleman and Associates
- President, Dell Computer Corporation, Canada
- President, Olivetti Canada
- BA in physics, University of Oxford
Program Director, National Programs
Asvini leads projects focused on the implementation of strategic priorities across the MaRS Venture Services team. Most recently, she’s helped run the Women in Cleantech Challenge, a joint collaboration between MaRS and Natural Resources Canada. The goal of the challenge is to identify and empower top female innovators from across the country who are developing technologies to tackle the world’s most daunting environmental challenges. Prior to joining MaRS, Asvini worked at Oracle Canada where she headed projects that introduced customized software solutions to improve operational efficiency and client management processes. Before that, Asvini worked at a boutique consulting firm where she helped clients develop their learning and development strategy. Asvini has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University, and a B.A. in economics from the University of British Columbia.
Jon Dogterom is a Cleantech Entrepreneur and Executive in Residence at MaRS Discovery District. From 2019 to 2022, Jon was the Senior Vice President of Venture Services at MaRS Discovery District where he led programming and advisory support to help grow Canada’s leading innovative companies in Health, Cleantech, Fintech and Enterprise. Prior to leading the Venture Services Team, he was the Managing Director of the Cleantech Practice. He is also the founder of the MaRS Advanced Energy Centre. Prior to joining MaRS, he led business development for Hydrogenics Corporation through the launch of the company's fuel cell and hydrogen generation divisions. He also co-founded Sustainable Energy Technologies (now Eguana Technologies), a leading Canadian provider of power electronics for the solar power industry. He has also served on the Energy Transformation Network of Ontario, and on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Clean Water Agency.