Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr, unveiled a nationwide contest for Canada’s aspiring female cleantech entrepreneurs this week.

Delivered in collaboration with MaRS Discovery District, the challenge will provide five women $115,000 a year for 2.5 years for living and travel expenses and one grand prize winner will receive $1 million to develop their idea into a marketable solution.

The contest is set up to support “disruptive, potentially scalable technologies that use less material and/or energy, reduce waste, and cause less environmental damage than the alternatives.” A list of examples of the types of technologies that would be considered is listed on the MaRS Discovery District website.

Applicants will be assessed by a six-member jury, who bring expertise and experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), clean technology, and business development—including novelist and activist Margaret Atwood.

Any IP applicants bring into the challenge will remain under the ownership of the applicant, however, once matched with funds, the federal government retains ownership of any IP that is developed by government representatives or jointly developed. Participation in the program also requires that recipients spend a considerable amount of time at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, therefore, temporary or part-time relocation to the GTA is strongly recommended for those residing outside the area.

The Women in Cleantech Challenge is the first of five challenges that will be launched in the coming months under Natural Resources Canada’s Cleantech Impact program. The contest is part of the government’s efforts to address the fact that women are underrepresented in the innovation economy. Women represent only five per cent of Canadian tech companies have a sole woman founder or CEO, and only 13 per cent of companies have a woman co-founder.

Visit the NRCan website for details. The deadline to apply is July 13, 2018.

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