It’s Canadian Innovation Week. This year’s theme includes a call to celebrate social innovators who move “from challenge to champion.” With that, we’re profiling the big wins of some of our 2020 and 2021 Earth Tech ventures as they champion cleantech solutions that tackle pressing environmental challenges.
Earth Tech is CSI Climate Ventures’ accelerator for those working on climate or water technology solutions across Canada. Over six months, our 2020 cohort earned and raised $4M, supported 76 jobs, and established 116 partnerships while participating in Earth Tech. Our 2021 cohort is on track for as much success. Three of our Earth Tech ventures have received funding from the SDTC Seed Fund with our nomination. All of these ventures are working harder than ever to ensure a flourishing future for people and the planet – and from the looks of their ‘wins’, it’s paying off.
Our 2021 program has been supported by the RBC Foundation, the Peter Gilgan Foundation, Bullfrog Power and VCIB.
ALT TEX is creating sustainable textiles engineered from food waste. Using their proprietary fermentation technology, this venture ferments food waste into polyester-like bioplastic fabric that is biodegradable and carbon-neutral.
Big wins: ALT TEX recently closed their pre-seed round of funding at $1.5 million. They also secured the top prize and audience choice at the UofT RBC Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (awarding them $29,000), top prize at the UofT Adam’s Sustainability Pitch Competition, and the TiE50 prize.
Big impact: According to founder Myra Arshad, “Grants and awards are how we built ALT TEX’s foundation. Continuing to receive these awards not only provides us the resources we need to continue, but also validates all of our progress and growth.”
Big love: “Having support from organizations that offer a platform, mentorship and funds is the reason ALT TEX has been able to get this far – it’s incredible how this ecosystem comes together to support entrepreneurs.”
Flash Forest uses swarms of autonomous drones to plant trees faster, cheaper, safer and with more ease than ever. They’re on a mission to plant 1 billion trees by 2028 by bringing their tech to six continents and pulling billions of tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Big wins: Here with the numbers, Flash Forest secured $100K from the SDTC seed fund, $100K from their Kickstarter, a pre-seed investment totalling $1.6M, and another $1.8M from Emissions Reduction Alberta! They recently landed four contracts with Canada’s largest forestry and pilot companies, and are set to plant 19 species of trees with 12 pilots across Canada in Spring 2021. How many people does it take to make all this happen? Flash Forest is a team of 18 brilliant minds in engineering, biology, and business development (with a Nobel prize winner on their board to boot!).
Big impact: “These wins will propel us closer to our goal, through investing in R&D, scaling pilot operations across Canada and internationally, building our team, and ultimately planting more trees,” founder and CEO, Bryce Jones emphasized.
Big love: “I feel energized, privileged, and proud – like seeing your baby grow up.”
A water tech company, RainStick’s first product, the RainStick Shower, is a high-flow shower system that saves 80% energy and 80% water through point of use recirculation and filtration, making water clear and clean enough to drink!
Big wins: Coming on the heels of a successful seed raise, RainStick just received $70,000 from the SDTC Seed Fund and has been named Top 5 in Canada for the Spring’s National Impact Investors Challenge.
Big impact: CEO and Co-Founder, Alisha McFetridge explains, “These wins allowed us to set up for our official ‘go to market’ in early 2022. It feels fantastic to have others as excited about RainStick as we are. We can’t wait for what the future holds.”
Water Rangers empowers people without science training to sample the lakes and rivers near them, upload their data into an app, and learn to become stewards of their waterways.
Big Wins: Water Rangers recently launched a five-year project with the University of Regina to fill data gaps and conduct scientific research for the province. Volunteers are monitoring 70 lakes alongside scientists. They also co-launched the Lake Erie Guardians with Canadian Freshwater Alliance to monitor and protect the Lake Erie watershed.
Big Impact: Executive Director Kat Kavaunaugh remarked, “This growth, plus supporting many other communities to collect water quality data, has our store revenues growing by 425% from last year and allowed us to double the size of our team to support our community.
Combined with a 320% increase in web traffic from last year, a fully bilingual website, and our work in promoting community-based water monitoring to be included in the new Canada Water Agency, we see no end to where 2021 will take us!”
Springbay Studio drives behavior change of children through empowering, playful and action-based environmental education programs. They provide a data-driven platform for communities and schools to gamify, measure and inspire GHG emissions reduction.
Big win: Springbay Studio successfully piloted a first-of-its-kind online kids competition about climate action. Their League for Green Leaders program promises to engage children in play to learn, play together, and play for our future. During the pilot season, they empowered over 300 children to reduce 15 tonnes of GHG emissions.
Big impact: Co-Founder and Game Designer, Jane Ji, is planning for scale in the next year: “Our goal for the next 12 months is to empower 18,000 children to reduce 14,000 tons of GHG emissions. The pilot proves the feasibility of our new program and provides invaluable learning on how to launch the first season successfully.”
Big love: “We were thrilled by how children were engaged with our League for Green Leaders program. Our original goal was to empower contestants to save 3 tonnes of CO2, but we ended up with over 15 tonnes. Every metric measured here represents a more eco-friendly choice our league participants took in their life. We are excited about the behaviour change empowered by our solution.”
Aquafort’s technology works to make aquaculture more sustainable and healthier for fish. They help producers proactively manage and automate disease diagnosis, boost production ecosystem health, and automate monitoring for fish behavior.
Big win: Aquafort developed their MVP software product with two predictive algorithms and a visual dashboard.
Big impact: “We have a product that we can demo to potential early adopters and ready to deploy in a live, operational setting,” CEO and Founder, Bo Simango, told us.
Big love: “It’s an important milestone which we can use to gain market traction and gather more interest from investors as well. We can also use this evidence to apply for tech development funding.”
Just Vertical is an indoor vertical hydroponic company that creates furniture that feeds you. Specifically, this venture is a premier vertical growing and vertical farming systems provider for residential and small scale commercial urban farmers.
Big wins: Just Vertical secured $100,000 from the SDTC Seed Fund, and both funding and a spot in PAX Momentum’s US-based accelerator.
Big impact: Co-Founder and President Kevin Jakiela explained, “This support will help us with our formal US Launch in May, acquiring new customers and expanding growth and sales strategies.”
Big love: “Just Vertical is very proud of this accomplishment as we take the next step in our growth journey as a start-up.”
Scarcity Analytics uses environmental models to help agriculture-dependent businesses avoid price spikes in their supply chains and improve their climate resilience by pre-emptively building up inventory when an environmental shock is on the horizon.
Big wins: Scarcity Analytics was accepted to the Volta Logistics AI Accelerator with access to $14,000 in pre-seed funding.
Big impact: According to CEO and Co-Founder, Jonas Goldman, “We’ll use this pre-seed funding to build out our backend machine learning infrastructure – moving beyond our MVP that models almond crops – to allow us to start tracking the impact of environmental disturbances for more crops, and so provide environmental disturbance monitoring solutions for a range of new food and beverage companies.”
Big love: “This is a big win for us and we’re excited to see just how many more crops we can provide modelling too.”
Ecosystem Informatics Inc.
Ecosystem informatics Inc. provides hyper local environmental and meteorological data and analytics with our state of the art AI-powered, mobile monitoring platform. It is an extremely cost effective tool for smart cities and industries to manage the environmental footprint and achieve their suitability objectives.
Big wins: Ecosystem Informatics Inc. received the 2020 Business Excellence Award from Mississauga Board of Trade, and was a featured impact company at Collision 2021.
Big impact: CEO AND Co-Founder, Shirook Ali, told us this recognition “provided exposure and gave additional credibility, boosting our energy as a team as well.”
Innovia GEO Corp. provides clean and efficient geothermal heating and cooling solutions to stakeholders involved in the design, construction, and operation of buildings and homes. Going beyond the status quo, they seek innovative and cost-effective solutions to support the sustainable development of our world.
Big wins: Innovia GEO Corp. successfully commissioned their first full-scale pilot project for their GEOThermal Piles in February. The technology dramatically cuts the cost of implementing a geothermal heating and cooling system by integrating geothermal functionality directly into a structure’s steel foundation piles. In their summer, they will continue testing so their product will be ready for commercial installations this fall.
Big impact: President and Co-Founder, Andrew Lee, said, “It’s an amazing feeling getting our pilot project installed after two years of hard work. Our team can’t wait to finish up our testing this summer so buildings can start using clean, efficient and cost effective heating and cooling with our GEOThermal Piles.”
Sentry is a robust real-time biological monitoring platform allowing wastewater treatment operators to understand imbalance and optimize their processes.
Big wins: SENTRY recently closed a funding round with two globally significant investors: SKion Water, a leading investor in the water space, and Factor[e], a leading impact investor.
Big impact: Client Ambassador and Water Professional, Jon Grant, explains, “To date, we’ve deployed 80 systems globally, and we’re shooting for 400 by the end of 2023. This Series A investment and partnership will play an integral role in helping us do that. SENTRY will also continue to actively explore new projects and partnerships as we continue scaling with the help of Factor[e] and SKion Water.”
Big love: “This was amazing for the team. We have been laying the groundwork through a number of early stage programs like Earth Tech who supported us in building skills. To see it pay off is a win for SENTRY and our broader support team.”
CERT converts CO2 into renewable chemicals using only electricity and water.
Big win: CERT was selected for the first cohort of the Carbon to Value Initiative,
Big impact:“We’ll have the opportunity to work with an industry-led Carbon Leadership Council to grow our company and develop partnerships towards deploying our technology for industrial decarbonization.”
Big love: “We are very excited to join C2VI and build on our success from 2020 through our participation in the Carbon XPRIZE and the Earth Tech accelerator. To be chosen as one of the top 10 most promising carbontech companies in the C2VI program validates the potential of CERT’s technology.”
SEI Logistics is a manufacturer of solar power equipment and a work lighting system. Based in the interior of British Columbia, they specialize in solar farm construction and off grid solar solutions.
Big wins: SEI recently delivered its prototype solar work light to a local mining operation. In 2021, they also secured their supply contract with Finning Canada, the exclusive dealer of CAT equipment in Western Canada.
Big impact: CFO Eric S Little emphasized, “This partnership with Finning will enable us to reach a larger audience and provide case studies to the mining industry. It’s also allowed us to hire two employees.”
The Centre for Social Innovation is helping to prove that the Next Economy – one that is regenerative, inclusive and prosperous for all – is possible.
Our Climate Ventures initiative fast-tracks the success of early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing and implementing solutions to the climate crisis. We also work with governments, large companies and partners to solve challenges and scale solutions. Learn more at climateventures.org.