If re-elected, the federal Liberals will fund space for dozens of new startups to set up shop in Invest Ottawa’s facilities at Bayview Yards, Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna pledged Wednesday.
McKenna, who is also minister of the environment and climate change, said she’ll work to secure cash for a proposed 6,400-square-foot expansion to the city-owned economic development hub near the Bayview LRT station if she reclaims her seat in the Oct. 21 federal election and the Liberals are returned to power.
The project would make room for 87 additional seats for startups at Invest Ottawa’s business incubator and accelerator, McKenna said during an appearance at Bayview Yards on Wednesday morning.
She said the exact amount of funding would depend on “the scale of the expansion,” adding that details such as what sorts of ventures the new space would serve would be determined after further discussions with officials from the city and Invest Ottawa.
“They understand the opportunity here, so it’s really working with them,” McKenna said.
Touting graduates of the Bayview Yards accelerator such as the Growcer, a company that uses hydroponic technology to produce fruits and vegetables in shipping containers in areas where they can’t be grown naturally, the minister said made-in-Canada technology is turning the country into a cleantech “powerhouse.”
Citing recent research from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate that predicts a shift to a low-carbon economy could generate $26 trillion in economic benefits over the next decade, McKenna said Canada needs to step up its commitment to the sector in order to stay at the forefront of green technology.
“We’re punching above our weight when it comes to clean technology companies,” McKenna said, noting Canada now has the world’s fourth-largest cleantech sector.
“I think this is a huge opportunity to grow the economy here locally, but also to really show that Canada can be a leader and Ottawa can be a leader when it comes to clean technology solutions. I see amazing companies … here at Bayview Yards, and I think we can do a lot more.”
The co-founder of a local cleantech startup who attended Wednesday’s announcement agreed the green economy offers massive potential for growth.
“One of the things that people really have to understand about the clean technology sector is how early in its infancy it really is,” said Switch Energy CEO Matthew Britt, whose Hintonburg-based firm installs solar energy systems in homes and commercial buildings across Ontario.
“If you look around the city, there’s probably less than one per cent of roofs that actually have their own power generation station right on them, and that’s about to switch.”
Britt said revenues at the two-year-old company, which now has nine employees, are poised to exceed $1.5 million in 2019 and have risen more than 200 per cent over the past 12 months.
“People need to continue to innovate,” he added. “An analogy I use is we didn’t leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones. And we’re not going to leave the oil age because we’ve run out of oil. It’s a way to create a tremendous amount of jobs as we switch over to this clean energy economy.”