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Building the foundation for Peterborough’s cleantech innovation corridor – Cleantech Commons continues to show strong progress

We reported in our May 2020 “Community Update” on the progress being made in providing municipal services to Cleantech Commons, the new clean technology research park currently under development on Trent University’s East Bank. You can read how Cleantech Commons is anchoring Peterborough’s cleantech innovation corridor here!

In this Cleantech Commons Community Update, we are pleased to share a more recent “bird’s eye” perspective of construction activity – courtesy of a good friend of Cleantech Commons, Justen Soule of Visual Endeavour Corporation. Watch the video of how we are building the foundations for cleantech research and innovation in Canada below!


Once internal servicing is complete, Cleantech Commons will be ready to accept its first tenants.

This will help turn our vision of creating Canada’s premier clean technology research and innovation park into reality and will help anchor Peterborough’s emerging cleantech innovation corridor. (Please review “Tenant Criteria for Cleantech Commons” here!)

Since our last report to the community, the Phase 1 stormwater pond – designed to reduce flood risk, prevent erosion in neighbouring creeks, and improve the quality of water discharging to the natural environment – has been fully excavated and the outlet structure completed.

Excavating the Phase 1 stormwater pond.

Progress has also been made:

  • Completing the easement access road.
  • Installing sanitary sewer connections.
  • Installing water mains.






Building the foundations for a cluster of clean innovation

Cleantech Commons is designed to host a cluster of growth companies, spin-out & startup ventures, and corporate accelerators & “innovation outposts”, all focused on researching, creating and commercializing clean technology products, services and technologies that aim to increase performance while reducing negative environmental impacts.

This includes in areas such as agriculture and bioproducts, energy efficiency, smart grid and energy storage, solar energy, transportation, water and waste management, wind and geothermal, and other renewables.

This Cleantech Commons community of clean, green, low- & zero-carbon and negative-emission energy, environment and climate technology researchers, innovators & entrepreneurs will be co-located with the academic & research expertise of Trent University and supported by value-adding business support, commercialization, mentorship & incubation/ acceleration services.

Working with Trent University’s chemistry department, Carbonix, an emerging First Nation technology company, has developed a proprietary environmentally-friendly process to manufacture customizable and lower-cost activated carbon using sustainably sourced feedstocks. Their proprietary process can convert large amounts of petroleum coke and boiler char – previously considered waste byproducts – into activated carbon.

Connected clusters like ours are important for developing both new & existing companies through innovation.

Throughout history, geographic-based clusters have been key facilitators of knowledge transmission and catalysts for innovation

In modern economies, the more diverse and interconnected a community is, the better the ideas, the more the innovation, and the greater the wealth it is capable of generating

And, demonstrably, innovation attracts capital and investment, drives economic growth, and supports new venture formation & job creation.

The clean technology businesses and research laboratories at Cleantech Commons will help to significantly advance, in particular, energy, environment and climate innovations that will have both national and global environmental and economic impact.

The value-added services, facilities, business expertise and mentorship at Cleantech Commons will all support growth in the innovation system and help to transition breakthroughs in research from the lab to the marketplace.

Artist’s impression: Trent Enterprise Centre at Cleantech Commons

The Trent Enterprise Centre at Cleantech Commons, a clean technology accelerator and scale-up facility, for example, will enhance technology development and startup formation from research: increasing commercialization through spinouts from academia, licensing deals with industry, and attracting public and private capital into early-stage innovation in our community.

Designed to tap into the region’s growing cleantech innovation ecosystem, Cleantech Commons will provide companies with access to the professional facilities, customized resources, expert knowledge, research expertise and coaching & mentorship they require to:

  • Develop solutions that help reduce greenhouse gases,
  • Promote the use of renewable resources,
  • Contribute to a low carbon economy,
  • Reduce waste,
  • Develop new environmental remediation approaches and
  • Commercialize clean and green processes and products.


Cleantech Commons: a picturesque location adjacent to the main campus of Trent University

Offering a picturesque location adjacent to the main campus of Trent University on the banks of the Otonabee River, Cleantech Commons affords access to some 1,400 acres of land and over 30 kilometres of nature trails. Trent University boasts one of Canada’s most picturesque campuses.

Offering a picturesque location adjacent to the main campus of Trent University on the banks of the Otonabee River, Cleantech Commons is designed to be a point of convergence for academic and industry partners driving innovation in clean, green & low-carbon technologies, water technologies, contaminant analysis, agro-biotechnology and biomaterials.

The park affords tenants access to some 1,400 acres of Trent land and over 30 kilometres of nature trails on one of Canada’s most picturesque campuses.

(Beyond that, Peterborough and the Kawarthas “is a cyclist’s playground – for both road and mountain bike riders,” says Canadian Cycling Magazine; while the City of Peterborough website details at least eight recreational walking and cycling trails of 15 to 40 km in length.)

The combination of lush forest, drumlins, wetlands, streams and open fields at Trent University provides a unique learning and recreational environment that is used by students, faculty and staff alike and is fully accessible to members of the Cleantech Commons community.

Tenancy at Cleantech Commons

Tenants at Cleantech Commons will be able to work with Trent University’s world-class and internationally-recognized researchers, students and facilities, including the Trent School of the EnvironmentWater Quality CentreTrent Centre for Biomaterials Research, the Inorganic Materials Research Laboratory, and The Emery Lab.

Tenants at Cleantech Commons will be able to work with Trent University’s researchers, students and facilities, including the Trent School of the Environment, Water Quality Centre, Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, Inorganic Materials Research Laboratory and the Emery Lab.

Already, several future Cleantech Commons tenants are working with Trent researchers and faculty on a number of collaborative research initiatives.

Trent’s exceptional learning environment and academic performance have earned the University a ranking among the world’s best.

In the 2020/21 Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) Trent is ranked at number 32 out of 96 Canadian universities while placing 1,237 out of over 20,000 global institutions, up nine places from last year’s 1,248 place ranking and earning Trent a spot in the top 6.2% of universities worldwide.

In 2019 Trent built on its strong reputation as an environmental leader, ranking number five in Canada in the annual “UI GreenMetric World University Ranking”. (See: Cleantech Commons contributes to Trent’s improved Sustainability Ranking.)

Positioning Peterborough as a “leader and cutting edge community”

In 2019 Trent built on its strong reputation as an environmental leader, ranking number five in Canada in the annual “UI GreenMetric World University Ranking”.

Cleantech Commons will build on Trent’s outstanding legacy – and will help position Peterborough as a “leader and cutting edge community” when it comes to building “a more sustainable and green future“, says Mayor Diane Therrien. (See: Cleantech Commons positions Peterborough as “a leader and cutting edge community”.)

This will include:

  • Offering experiential learning for students
  • Creating spaces for the incubation and acceleration of student research
  • Providing commercialization support for student & faculty startup & spinout ventures.


A Focus on the Environment

In advance of beginning the internal servicing, the City of Peterborough worked with and gained approvals from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Otonabee Region Conservation Authority on aspects such as natural heritage, groundwater conditions, tree preservation, stormwater management, species at risk and other environmental considerations. (A full list of studies is available to view at the City of Peterborough’s project site.)

Comprehensive environmental protection features, including erosion and sediment controls, were installed prior to construction.

Installing environmental protection features, including erosion and sediment controls.

As Cleantech Commons is located adjacent to the Nassau Wetland Complex, Otonabee Conservation directed and reviewed environmental studies to determine the appropriate setbacks required to protect these important natural systems on the Trent campus.

Otonabee Conservation is continuously monitoring all environmental controls at the research park, while Trent has engaged an independent environmental consultant to monitor the adjacent wetland to ensure its continued health.

Over the past few months of construction, comprehensive environmental protection features such as erosion and sediment controls, to prevent sediment from washing off-site and into ditches, streams, watercourses or storm sewers, have been installed.

The master plan for Cleantech Commons includes sustainable design elements such as low-impact development standards for stormwater management. View Our Master Plan [20MB PDF]

Cleantech Commons tenants will also be required to commit to sustainable site design, green building principles, and environmentally friendly operations.