List highlights 10 fast-growing, impactful SDTC-backed Canadian cleantech firms

The Saltworks team.
Saltworks' team.
Mara Renewables, MineSense, Ecopia AI crack the list alongside returnees Saltworks, Hifi, among others.

Earlier this month, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) unveiled its latest list of SDTC portfolio firms that have shown significant growth in recent years and delivered sustainability and economic benefits for Canada.

These 10 Canadian tech companies generate at least $10 million in revenue per year with annual growth of 20 percent or more, and have environmental and sustainability benefits.

The launch of SDTC’s “Sustainability Changemakers” of 2023 list comes as the world navigates extreme weather and record temperatures, and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that we must act now to protect the environment, or it will be too late.

Amid these conditions, Canada and other countries have ramped up their support of cleantech companies, at a time when—despite some bright spots—overall investment in the sector has fallen as economic conditions have worsened.

SDTC’s 2023 list saw four returnees from 2022. This group includes Richmond, British Columbia-based industrial wastewater-treatment and lithium-refining firm Saltworks, Calgary pipeline and infrastructure monitoring company Hifi, Montréal-based startup Enerkem, which produces biofuels and renewable chemicals from waste, and Collingwood company Key DH Technologies, which develops deuterium and hydrogen solutions.

Six new Canadian tech companies joined the above four returnees, including Dartmouth, Nova Scotia biotech Mara Renewables, Mississauga-based battery tech firm Electrovaya, Vancouver mining tech firm MineSense Technologies, Calgary-based cleantech company WestGen, Brantford, Ontario’s Greenmantra Technologies, which transforms waste into polymers for industrial products, and Toronto-based digital mapping startup Ecopia AI.

All of the companies that have cracked this list satisfy the following criteria: they have at least $10 million CAD in annual revenue, a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent or more over the last three years, sustainable benefits and environmental impact, a global footprint, and at least half of their workforce and operations are in Canada.

The 2022 edition of this list—and SDTC’s first to date—also featured 10 companies, including Vancouver-based AgTech firm Semios, Mississauga’s Vive Crop Protection, and Darthmouth-based CarbonCure Technologies.

RELATED: Mara Renewables raises $39.5 million to expand algae-based offerings

The Government of Canada made cleantech a priority in Budget 2023. The country’s latest federal budget was particularly heavy on clean energy and cleantech investment and tax credits. As Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland noted in her March 20 pre-budget positioning speech, Budget 2023 prioritizes a “significant and necessary” investment in the green economy.

With these initiatives, the feds aim to help bring the country’s green-transition efforts up to speed with the United States, which passed a historic $369 billion USD climate and tax deal last year.

Created and financed by the Government of Canada, SDTC is an arm’s-length agency tasked with funding the development of new clean technologies. SDTC invests in Canadian companies across the seed, startup, and scale-up stages advancing pre-commercial cleantech with the potential for significant environmental and economic benefits. The organization represents an important part of the federal government’s strategy for supporting the green economy.

The release of this year’s SDTC list comes as SDTC contends with an investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement and conflict of interest, as first reported by The Globe and Mail.

The release of this year’s list comes as SDTC contends with a federal investigation into its governance and management.

Per The Globe, this probe was prompted by a group of former employees who allege that some projects from entrepreneurs with close ties to the agency’s management and board received preferential treatment and that in some cases, this has led to the SDTC funding companies that may not have required taxpayer-funded grants, given their current revenues and private fundraising efforts.

A spokesperson for the Government of Canada’s department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) confirmed to BetaKit that in February, ISED received allegations related to “the governance and management” of SDTC, and has since launched a fact-finding exercise run by independent third-party Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton “to determine the merit of these allegations and whether further action may be required.”

The spokesperson told BetaKit that ISED expects to receive a final report “in the coming weeks,” adding that “the department will not hesitate to take any necessary steps to address the findings.”

“SDTC is fully cooperating with the fact-finding exercise initiated by the Government of Canada and will be able to comment further once this exercise is complete,” an SDTC spokesperson told BetaKit. “At this time the allegations have not been substantiated.”

Feature image courtesy Saltworks.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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