Shanghai Dawn
The population of greater Shanghai is 24 million, almost two-thirds the population of Canada.

As my colleague Aron Solomon blogged recently, Premier Wynne’s trade mission to China last week was a special privilege for all involved. The mission was a great success, significantly building and strengthening partnerships and relationships between Canada and China.

One achievement was the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between MaRS’ Advanced Energy Centre (AEC), WaterTAP, and the China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP). CECEP is the Chinese state-owned enterprise tasked with energy savings and environmental protection. With 10 subsidiaries and considerable reach into multiple business areas, CECEP is the largest player in the energy and environment sector in China.

The AEC and WaterTAP’s new partnership with CECEP is a Canadian first. China is currently scouring the world for innovative technologies that can generate low-carbon electricity, better integrate renewables into their power grid, and purify air and water. The MOU is the foundation of a relationship that will directly connect our best energy and water technologies and companies with one of the largest energy enterprises in China.

CECEP is about as large as the challenge it is tasked with addressing. Pollution and population growth are taking a toll on the health of the Chinese people. The country is surging forward with plans to introduce a national carbon market, increase taxes on the use of natural resources and cut emissions intensity by up to 45% in the next three years. Beijing alone will spend $140 billion over the next three years to reduce air pollution, which is primarily caused by coal-based power generating stations and steel production. This year, the Chinese government significantly strengthened environmental regulations for the first time in a quarter century after the Chinese Premier declared that the country is now “at war with pollution.”

As China’s economy matures, its business landscape is also changing. The Chinese government recently prioritized the need to address corruption in the country: China is now in the midst of one of the broadest anti-corruption campaigns in the country’s history, one that extends to officials who engage in environmentally-linked wrongdoing. These changes are in parallel with efforts to improve domestic intellectual property (IP) protection in recognition of the need to protect Chinese-created IP as the country shifts its focus to innovation and research and development.

CECEP Headquarters
CECEP Headquarters

This agreement is unique in that all three of the partners straddle the public-private divide. The AEC and WaterTAP work closely with both the public and private sector to solve complex energy problems. Similarly, CECEP is both a market player and a powerful public sector partner and ally. It is in these relationships that the real importance of this new partnership is found.

Canada’s energy and water innovation is among the best in the world, but many of its innovative companies lack the bandwidth or resources to navigate the complexities of the Chinese market. By working as trusted partners with the CECEP, AEC and WaterTAP are building a bridge to the Chinese energy and water markets and providing a gateway for Canadian companies to access the significant opportunities these markets represent.

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