With the global cleantech market projected to exceed $3.3 trillion by 2022, Cleantech Commons at Trent University, a partnership between the university and the City of Peterborough, is preparing to diversify the local economy and create myriad opportunities for researchers, students, and job seekers.

“We are creating a Canadian hub for collaborative clean technology research – bringing together businesses with faculty, researchers, students and startups to commercialize innovative cleantech solutions,” says Martin Yuill, executive director of Cleantech Commons. “One important outcome of the Cleantech Commons is to increase our capacity to equip Trent students with marketable skills that will give them an edge in the job market.”

According to Export Development Canada, Canada’s cleantech sector currently employs over 82,000 people, accounts for 3.2 per cent of the country’s GDP, and is forecast to continue this growth trend for the foreseeable future.

With its vision of becoming Canada’s premier green technology and innovation site, the Commons is set to bolster the region’s economic growth and bring job opportunities to Peterborough.

“Our goal is to support ventures focused on creating innovative solutions to the most pressing and complex energy, environment and climate challenges of our times, and connect them with the world-class researchers and facilities housed at Trent,” says Dr. Cathy Bruce, acting vice-president, Research and Innovation at Trent University.

With servicing to the park complete, and internal servicing to the first 25 acres expected to be completed by summer 2021, the focus for the park has shifted to assessing tenant fit and planning for the first multi-tenant building. Many prospective tenants of the Cleantech Commons research park are already actively engaged in collaborative research with students, researchers, and faculty in Trent’s School of the Environment, Water Quality Centre, Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, Inorganic Materials Research Laboratory, and the Emery Lab.

As of December 2020, more than 25 potential tenants have expressed interest in locating at Cleantech Commons, with 70 per cent of them originating from outside Peterborough.

Opportunity to diversify 

According to Yuill, the cluster of innovators, startup and spin-out ventures housed at Cleantech Commons will help retain top talent in the region by creating a variety of job opportunities, not only in the clean technology field but also in related professional services, such as marketing, accounting and human resource management.

“Cleantech Commons is an investment by the City of Peterborough in partnership with Trent University to create jobs, support innovation, and grow our economy through the establishment of a green technology hub. It’s an exciting blend of a business park, a place for research, and an opportunity for collaboration to drive innovation in sustainability and economic activity,” said City of Peterborough councillor Don Vassiliadis, who also services as City Council’s economic development portfolio chair.

To support these new ventures, Trent University and Cleantech Commons have created the Trent Enterprise Centre, which will be the only clean-technology accelerator in Canada with both shared laboratories and pilot facilities to support clean-tech startups, business growth and commercialization.

Through this initiative, startup ventures will have access to technology demonstration space to fast-track their growth. Through a partnership with the Peterborough Innovation Cluster, it is anticipated that an initial 70 cleantech companies will benefit from business advisory and mentoring services – and lead to the creation of approximately 300 jobs.

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Cleantech Commons at Trent University

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