PacifiCan invests nearly $23 million in BC cleantech, zero-waste projects

Saltworks, MintList, and Novarc Technologies all receive funding for expansion and commercialization.

Through its Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), the federal government has made a number of investments in June to drive startup expansion and technology commercialization in British Columbia.

Made in three separate announcements, the investments total some $23 million in funding for cleantech and zero-waste technology in the province.

Novarc Technologies received $2.065 million CAD to market its welding robots globally. The startup claims its spool welding robot is the first of its kind in pipe-welding technology, and gives traditional industries a pathway to automation.

The investments are expected to create over 300 jobs and almost $350 million in expected revenue growth for BC businesses, according to PacifiCan.

PacifiCan followed that announcement with another in late June of an almost $13-million CAD investment in zero-waste and cleantech startups.

The investments are expected to create over 300 jobs and almost $350 million in expected revenue growth for BC businesses, according to PacifiCan. The agency is investing in seven startups in addition to Novarc Technologies, helping with business scale-up and productivity, as well as with jobs and growth.

Novarc’s solution automates the manufacturing process of welding, which it claims allows welders of all skill levels to work collaboratively with its robots. Novarc says this increases safety and productivity by up to five times in carbon steel pipe welding, and up to 12 times on stainless steel pipes.

This funding, which is being provided through PacifiCan’s Business Scale-up and Productivity program, will help Novarc continue to grow, PacifiCan claims. Novarc has already installed spool welding robot units in North America, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and China, and has plans for further expansion.

The investment is expected to support over 50 new jobs at Novarc and generate increased revenues, PacifiCan says.

The largest share of the cleantech funding is being invested with Saltworks Technologies. The company treats industrial wastewater and water used in processing lithium, a major component needed for car batteries in electric vehicles. Saltworks received $4.8 million, which PacifiCan says Saltworks plans to use to expand its current facility, hire new employees, improve manufacturing efficiency, and expand sales.

The Richmond, BC-based startup, which develops technology for industrial desalination, previously received $2.6 million from Emissions Reduction Alberta in 2021. Combined with private investment, Saltworks’ previous project value totals $9.5 million. That project will treat and reuse industrial wastewater to avoid land-spreading—a technique for disposing of waste by spreading it thinly on the ground—and the use of disposal wells. Saltworks has previously received funding from the federal government and New Ventures.

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Another startup receiving investment was the online used-car-sales platform MintList Technologies. The $2 million in funding will help the startup scale and enhance its online automotive marketplace with new cybersecurity measures and automation tools. MintList claims it has the largest inventory of inspected, certified, pre-owned electric vehicles in BC. The startup plans to hire new staff and launch marketing campaigns to grow its customer base.

MintList raised $2.76 million in seed money in January 2022 to support the launch of its online platform. Investment in MintList comes at a time when confidence in online auto sales has declined. Vancouver-based auto marketplace Canada Drives underwent restructuring of its business operations after filing for creditor protection in March. And Toronto-based Clutch, which also operates in the on-demand used car industry, laid off roughly 65 percent of its staff in January.

Finally, the federal agency announced $8.1 million to help six organizations around Greater Victoria. BC boost innovation networks, drive business growth, and create new jobs and training opportunities.

Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development, and Minister responsible for PacifiCan, made the announcement with the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP), Greater Victoria’s economic development alliance, which is receiving $3 million to establish the new Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies (COAST) and support activities led by the Indigenous Prosperity Centre (IPC).

RELATED: MintList secures $2.76 million to fuel growth of online car sales platform

COAST will expand BC’s emerging ocean technology sector by bringing together entrepreneurs, governments, researchers, and industry partners to address climate challenges and boost the local ocean economy. IPC is a new Indigenous-led arm of SIPP dedicated to supporting Indigenous-led economic development in ocean monitoring and conservation on southern Vancouver Island.

Among other startups, the government also invested $1.5 million in Peloton Technologies Inc., (not to be confused with the stationary bike company), a startup producing a cloud-based platform that claims customers can consolidate all their banking and payment activity into a single portal. The funding will help the company expand its client base of merchants who are looking to switch from paper-based transactions to streamlined digital payments.

Image: The founders of the online used-car-sales startup MintList, one of the businesses to secure investment from PacifiCan.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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