May 10, 2010

Do Canadian water technologies have a chance on the global market? We asked five speakers from the upcoming Canadian Water Summit (Toronto, June 17) what they think.

The Ontario government has promised, through the proposed Water Opportunities Act, to position the province as a major force in the global water market. In your opinion, is Ontario (and Canada) well positioned to enter this market?

Zoltan Tompa: Ontario certainly has the right ingredients to achieve this vision, including a wealth of intellectual capital in the private sector and in our world-class universities, excess manufacturing capacity and enormous potential for domestic market adoption. Canada already has some notable water technology company success stories where disruptive new water treatment technologies have been invented locally and delivered at scale into the global market place. There is also an increasing recognition among the public, industry and policy makers that our water resources are not as infinite as we once thought, and technological innovation will be required to compliment conservation and tighter regulations.

David Henderson: Yes. We have a free-trade agreement with, and easy access to, the largest water market in the world, the United States. Our economy is based on some of the most water intensive industries. Therefore, we get a dual benefit by investing in water innovation—it will increase the productivity of our key sectors and at the same time create a whole new generation of companies that can export their water solutions around the world.

John Milloy: We [at MRI] see huge opportunity ahead. The Conference Board of Canada estimates the global market for water technology at more than US$400 billion per year, doubling every five to six years. As part of our new Open Ontario plan, our government will introduce legislation that will build on Ontario’s expertise in clean water technology. We are now working with our colleagues at the Ministry of the Environment and across government to develop the Water Opportunities Act. We have already invested in innovative companies working towards clean water solutions. A recent example is Vive Nano, an emerging Toronto-based company specializing in nanotechnology that can clean contaminated water and reduce agrochemical waste entering our water supply.

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