Industry leaders in the cleantech and university-innovation park sectors joined together at Trent University on May 2 to share expertise, foster discussion and inspire new ideas for Cleantech Commons, which is set to become Canada’s premier location for green technology.
The symposium for the innovation park, which is a partnership between the University and the City of Peterborough, offered insight from industry leaders Tom Rand, senior advisor, Cleantech MaRS; Ilse Treurnicht, former CEO, MaRS Discovery District; Mark Betteridge ‘70, Trent alumnus, Angel investor and former CEO, Discovery Parks BC; and Carol A. Stewart, associate vice president, Tech Parks Arizona.
“The potential for this innovation park is limitless with opportunities for cleantech research, economic growth, experiential learning for our students, investment in the Peterborough community and, most importantly, reflecting Trent’s values of becoming the destination for green, clean businesses that can change the world,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University.
Cleantech Commons is to become a premier location for green technology research, innovation and commercialization, hosting a cluster of established cleantech companies, growth enterprises, startup ventures and associated value-adding professional service providers, investors and accelerators focuses on areas including clean technology, environmental services, medical and health products and biotechnology.
Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien attended and said she was also excited about the future of Cleantech Commons. “This is going where we know the economy is going in decades to come,” Ms. Therrien said when addressing the gathering.
Mr. Rand, who focuses on carbon mitigation, discussed the looming impacts of climate change including flooding, wildfires and droughts and added that he’s encouraged by the federal government’s support to combat climate change and also a recent change in attitude by corporate Canada about investing in clean technology. Cleantech Commons will lead the way to a brighter future, Mr. Rand said.
“Cleantech Commons is important for Trent, the Peterborough Region and for the world,” he said.
Ms. Treurnicht, a scientist and Innovation and Business executive, spoke about the lessons learned from developing MaRS, which supports Canada’s most promising startups. She said there must be a strong relationship between the companies and the University as the public and private sector entities will enjoy a unique relationship that will also be rooted in the Peterborough community.
There’s not a playbook when it comes to this kind of unique relationship for a university-innovation park, added Ms. Stewart, who spoke about her experience at Tech Parks Arizona and as executive director of Association of University Research Parks. “There are no straight lines to success,” Ms. Stewart said. “But this also creates opportunities.”
One idea to stimulate the innovation park is to integrate a boutique hotel and pub into the plans, added Mr. Betteridge, who also spoke about the need for Angel investors. “This will provide a place to meet and do business,” Mr. Betteridge said.
Guests at the invitation-only symposium were also invited to tour the University’s world-class labs and the Cleantech site at the end of the day.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
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