Surrey is leading the clean technology revolution

City an attractive locale for 'green' companies.

Clean technology may not yet be widely recognized, but the municipality of Surrey is already embracing the concept.

That’s according to Foresight Clean Tech Accelerator Centre Managing Director Neil Huff who, when looking to relocate his facility, did not have to look very far.

“Surrey was very pro-active about getting us to come here. They made sure it was easy for us to make the transition,” he says.

Clean technology is defined as products, processes or services that reduce waste and require the use or extraction of as few non-renewable resources as possible.

A 2014 survey conducted by Cleantech Canada showed 55 per cent of those interviewed said cost savings or efficiencies were the top motivators when considering clean technology investments. Competitive positioning ranked 31 per cent on the same motivational list.

Established two years ago, the centre, a Canadian not-for-profit company devoted to early-stage clean technology innovators, has already helped 25 companies locate in B.C. and Quebec.

Huff says his centre, which collaborates with the B.C. government, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), BCIC, universities, and the private sector, provides clean technology businesses with guidance, training and funding to accelerate their growth and product commercialization activities.

Among those companies helped are Pyrowave, whose technology transforms material waste into renewable energy products on the spot, and Surrey-based International Material Recovery (IMR).

Last year, IMR initiated full production of its technology that involves recycling waste drywall into a form of gypsum that can then be sold to cement companies as a raw material in cement production.

IMR CEO Sam Gill says he and his company’s founders chose Surrey for their business partly because of its reputation for assisting green businesses.

“Surrey has been very forward thinking and extremely helpful in getting us set up,” he says.

Although clean technology businesses can be “capital intensive” to get started, Gill explains they can and should be based on a profitable business model.

“You have to have a business model that makes money. You can’t just be altruistically green,” he says.

Gill is confident in two to three years, his business, which may be the only one of its kind in North America, will be showing a profit.

“Our business model works.”


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