Statistics Canada recently released a first-ever snapshot of the businesses performing clean technology (cleantech) activities that have been funded by the federal government through Business Innovation and Growth Support (BIGS) programs. In 2020, the BIGS database covered a total of 123 programs delivered by 18 federal departments, of which 15 were cleantech programs.
With this report, entitled “Federal Business Innovation and Growth Support to clean technology, 2016 to 2020,” Canadians can learn about the Government of Canada’s financial and service-based support to businesses through programs that provide activities such as funding, consulting services to enterprises, industry-facing research and development (R&D), support provided directly or in partnership, and support for technology development and exports.
In partnership with the Treasury Board Secretariat, Statistics Canada produces information about the impact of these programs on their recipients via the Business Innovation and Growth Support (BIGS) statistical program. The government offers BIGS with the aim to increase business economic performance, support high-performing businesses and contribute to improved diversity outcomes in businesses by boosting the participation of underrepresented groups in the economy. It also aims to create jobs, increase wages and lead to technological advancements. As of 2020, the BIGS database contained 123 federal programs that cover support for clean technology (clean tech), commercialization, exports, R&D and business productivity.
Cleantech has been an emerging area of policy research with the increasing importance of reducing environmental impacts. It is defined as any good or service designed with the primary purpose of contributing to remediating or preventing any type of environmental damage or any good or service whose primary purpose is not environmental protection but that is less polluting or more resource-efficient than equivalent normal products that furnish a similar utility.
The cleantech sector is an important part of the Canadian economy, with governments and businesses playing a key role in its development. The value of the environmental and clean tech products sector in Canada accounted for 3.1 per cent of Canadian gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, and the share of the environmental and clean tech products GDP out of total GDP has remained relatively stable since the beginning of the time series in 2007.
In its climate plan titled A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, the Government of Canada outlines that “clean technology is a key driver of innovation, environmental improvements, economic growth and jobs,” with federal investments to clean tech totalling more than $3 billion between 2016 and 2020. As a result, more initiatives are focusing on clean tech and, within BIGS, there are numerous clean tech programs. Examples of projects funded through BIGS clean tech programs include clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, low-carbon transition, and bioproducts.
Using BIGS data, this analysis targets the programs focused on supporting clean tech initiatives. This analysis provides a profile of businesses supported by federal BIGS clean tech programs compared with businesses supported by any BIGS programs. It explores the economic and social characteristics of these businesses by linking BIGS data to Statistics Canada’s Business Register (BR) and Business Linkable File Environment (B-LFE).Note This analysis highlights the economic contribution of support to clean tech in Canada and helps to inform policy and programs targeting clean tech businesses.
Highlights of the report:
- The number of cleantech beneficiaries increased from 436 to 1,335 enterprises between 2016 and 2020, and the total value of the federal support increased from $84 million to $394 million in the same period.
- Cleantech supported businesses are smaller and newer and report higher growth compared with businesses supported by federal Business Innovation and Growth Support (BIGS) programs in general.
- In 2020, cleantech supported businesses invested $200,000 more on average in research and development and exported $61 million more on average, compared with all BIGS-supported businesses.
- Ownership of cleantech supported businesses is less diverse, but the workforce is more educated, compared with all BIGS-supported businesses.
Of the 123 programs covered by BIGS in 2020, 15 exclusively supported cleantech projects and enterprises and 22 broader ones supported—though not exclusively—cleantech projects. The number of clean tech programs has been increasing year over year, expanding from a low of 3 in 2016 to 13 in 2019.
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