Peterborough City Council declared a climate emergency this fall. It underscores ongoing work at Cleantech Commons, which promises to bring together a community of big-thinking energy, environment and climate problem solvers.
The focus of Cleantech Commons is on generating the innovation required to produce new products and processes that address local, national and global environmental challenges, while providing valuable experiential learning for students, creating high-value jobs, and fuelling economic growth in our community.
Despite the current “pre-construction” status of the current site, exciting things are already happening at Cleantech Commons. Here are just 10:
1. No fewer than 16 potential tenants have expressed interest in setting up shop at Cleantech Commons. This includes companies focused on green transportation, tools to reduce greenhouse gases, new approaches to waste management, purifying industrial waste streams and alternative protein sources.
2. 63% of these future tenants originate from outside Peterborough, and even from outside Ontario.
3. We are in discussions with two private sector developers, two national professional service providers, an anchor tenant, and an international group exploring ways to make Cleantech Commons the location of choice for cleantech foreign direct investment into Canada.
4. A “Tenant Criteria” document has been established as a way to assess leads in order to ensure that they meet admission qualifications and environmental criteria, including sustainable site design, green building principles and environmentally-friendly operations.
5. We are in the final stages of planning for a “Trent Enterprise Centre” – a location designed to accelerate student cleantech start-ups and university spinouts through experimentation, idea generation, and entrepreneurial inspiration, as well as spaces for co-working, satellite research & development, wet labs and social interaction.
6. Several prospective tenants of Cleantech Commons are already engaged in collaborative research with Trent University.
7. All environmental, archeological, geotechnical, hydrogeological, habitat and species studies have been completed.
9. Soil testing and the installation of environmental protection features, such as erosion and sediment controls, is currently underway.
10. Upgrades to Pioneer Road are complete, including 300 new trees and 1.8 km of trails for walking and biking.
In the early days of a research park, it can be difficult to see the full potential or understand what will spark its success. Each of Canada’s 26 current research parks has evolved differently, based on their local needs, partnerships, and the research focus of their associated universities.
What we do know is that the global demand for clean innovation is growing and that Peterborough is an ideal location for a cleantech innovation community. (Water Canada recently declared Peterborough the #1 City in Ontario in which to launch a water technology startup.)
The focus of Cleantech Commons is on those core technology areas that align with Trent’s scientific research, academic expertise and student interest, including water technology; clean technology; environmental services; advanced material sciences; biotechnology; medical and health products; agri-food and agri-business; and information & communications technologies.
Even in these early days, Cleantech Commons stands out for its focus on clean, green and low-carbon innovation, technology and business; for the collaboration between the City, the University and the local innovation community; and for the facilities, infrastructure and services available through Trent University to support the formation and growth of globally competitive Canadian cleantech ventures.
By bringing together these elements, Cleantech Commons provides our region with the opportunity to take advantage of an emerging sector projected to be worth as much as $26 trillion by 2030 – while helping us all live more sustainably.
By Martin J. Yuill, Executive Director – Cleantech Commons at Trent University