A new Invest Vancouver report reveals that water tech, a hidden gem of the clean tech sector, provides an untapped economic opportunity for the Metro Vancouver region, serving a multi-billion dollar global market.
Water tech encompasses technology that mitigates risk for utilities, industrial water users, and households while producing benefits such as lower carbon intensity, more efficient use of resources, and reduced environmental impact — including fewer pollutants and less waste.
“The local water tech sector is poised for growth and could put our regional economy at the forefront of this rapidly expanding global industry. What is most striking is that despite the lack of a concerted effort in building a water technology cluster, the beginnings of one seems to be developing here organically,” said Jacquie Griffiths, president of Invest Vancouver. “Because water-related risks are an increasing global concern, there is an export opportunity for Metro Vancouver solutions that address these problems, which would support a growing cluster with well-paid clean tech jobs.”
Invest Vancouver’s role as the Metro Vancouver region’s economic development leadership service is to identify regional strengths and potential, and focus its efforts on supporting those areas in order to support a strong and resilient economy now and in the future. The region has strengths in industrial wastewater treatment, resource recovery, decentralized treatment, and digital solutions and sensor technologies, and has the potential to become a global supplier of water technology solutions. The demand for innovative water tech solutions represents a growing market driven by multiple trends, including responses to climate change, environmental and human health regulations, and circular economy objectives.
The report’s key recommendations to unlock the sector’s potential in the region include:
- Promote water tech as part of BC’s clean tech sector
- Explore opportunities for collaborative research, such as exploring even greater integration and cooperation for water tech research, academic institutions, and research facilities such as Metro Vancouver’s Annacis Research Centre
- Create a BC Clean Tech Concierge Program to act as a champion, conduit, and primary point of contact for clean tech firms, modelled on the current BC Agritech Concierge Program
- Stimulate technology adoption by showcasing best practices and reducing risk for adoption by public utilities
“The water tech sector in the Metro Vancouver region has the potential to follow in the footsteps of the Netherlands, a world leader in water technology development, commercialization, and export,” said Jeanette Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Foresight Canada and Invest Vancouver Management Board member. “The similarities between what is emerging in Metro Vancouver and the Netherlands’ WaterCampus in Leeuwarden suggests that with some coordination, collaboration, investment, and promotion, the region could, over time, support a similarly robust ecosystem.”
Read Water Tech: The Metro Vancouver Region’s Untapped Clean Tech Opportunity for an overview of the Metro Vancouver water tech sector and its opportunities and challenges, and see recommendations for capitalizing on this untapped clean tech sector.
- The water tech sector is using new technology, process innovation, sensors, the internet of things, software, and data analytics to develop solutions applicable to water treatment, water management, and industrial and household water users.
- The water tech sector is part of the Metro Vancouver region’s broader clean tech sector, which will represent a major, growing driver of BC’s economic activity into the future.
- Intensifying water-related risks are matched with an increasing economic opportunity and a growing global, multi-billion-dollar market in areas such as resource recovery, stormwater management, brine management, and advanced drinking water treatment.
- Unlocking the potential of the Metro Vancouver region’s water tech sector starts with developing an understanding of what is already here, then building off the region’s existing strengths.
- Invest Vancouver conducts research into key export-oriented industries in the Metro Vancouver economy. Through the identification of opportunities and challenges faced by firms in these industries, Invest Vancouver develops recommendations to inform policy and to influence decision-makers in strengthening the regional value proposition across key industries in order to increase the region’s global competitiveness.
- With support from Metro Vancouver’s Sustainability Innovation Fund, Invest Vancouver has partnered with Foresight Canada’s waterNEXT network to strengthen the water tech sector in the region. Future phases of this project will aim to build capacity in the sector through acceleration activities and a global showcase of water tech firms, targeting key markets for the water technology sector.