By Barnabe Geis
Climate Ventures was opened by the Centre for Social Innovation in September 2018, and has since accelerated 133 early-stage ventures. Our alumni have earned and raised over $169M developing and implementing their climate solutions.
A lot has changed since we launched: while we started as a coworking space, our focus rapidly shifted to national programming – educating and supporting up-and-coming entrepreneurs across the country.
The ecosystem has come a long way as well, which is why we’re making some big changes to how we collaborate and deliver world-class programs…
CLIMATE VENTURES MERGES!
The TLDR is that we’re thrilled to be elevating and growing our work by deepening the partnership between SI Canada and Foresight Canada. Moving forward, we’ll be continuing our work through these organizations rather than under the Climate Ventures brand, collaboratively running our flagship programs Earth Tech and Accelerate from Anywhere, and launching new initiatives together.
The partnership will also allow us to eliminate redundancies (of systems, brands etc.), to align our programs, and to leverage the staff and networks of both organizations for greater impact – including expanding our focus to the adoption and scale up of innovative climate solutions.
- As part of this transition, Shea Sinnott is now the Director of Programs of our joint Accelerate from Anywhere initiative.
- Sahar Shamsi is now the Program Manager for Earth Tech and Accelerate from Anywhere.
- Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Foresight, a Senior Social Innovation Fellow at SI Canada, and a senior consultant at CSI.
- Khizr Imran Tajammul is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Foresight, and a senior consultant with CSI.
- I’m now the Senior Director of Cleantech at SI Canada, and Senior Director of Market Transformation at Foresight Canada.
Climate Ventures team (right to left): Khizr Imran Tajammul, Barnabe Geis, Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Shea Sinnott, Sahar Shamsi in Spring 2022
CLIMATE VENTURES’ JOURNEY
When CSI launched Climate Ventures, we sought to bring some of CSI’s coworking and community magic to climate innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Climate Ventures space was built with our values in mind, using low-carbon and upcycled materials, and designed for connection and collaboration. It plugged into CSI’s incredible collaborative workspaces at CSI Spadina, and was made possible by CSI’s multidisciplinary staff, from facilities management to community animation.
A coworking area of the Climate Ventures space at CSI Spadina.
We knew that many entrepreneurs also needed dedicated support services to overcome challenges and navigate shifting policy, market and funding landscapes, so we built up an advisor network and developed new educational programs, accelerators and pitch nights. Our approach blended social innovation into our climate entrepreneurship training.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the great work led by the Climate Ventures team over the last 4 years as part of CSI and its affiliate charity:
- 159 coworking members of the CSI Climate Ventures space
- Our accelerators have fast-tracked 133 early-stage ventures
- Those ventures rated our programs and services as “exceptional”
- Ventures raised $44.7M and supported 554 jobs while participating in our programs
- Our alumni have gone on to raise a total of $169.1M+
- In the first year of Accelerate from Anywhere, our joint initiative with Foresight Canada, the combined 212 ventures we supported earned & raised $35.9M and created 123 new FTE jobs
- 69% of Earth Tech participants identified as women and/or BIPOC, and 67% across Accelerate from Anywhere
- Our entrepreneurship 101 course taught over 200 aspiring entrepreneurs the fundamentals of social innovation and running a successful climate enterprise
- And, harder to measure, we had fun, and gave one another hope and encouragement. Our members and ventures forged new connections and friendships, and supported each other while working through difficult challenges (like a pandemic!) and witnessing the growing and terrifying impacts of the climate crisis.
Agents of Change: Climate Solutions Pitch Competition
In 2021, Foresight Canada and the Centre for Social Innovation entered into a partnership to collaborate on cleantech acceleration programs through Climate Ventures. This included Accelerate from Anywhere, a joint initiative focused on providing support for entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey, from anywhere in Canada, while removing barriers to their growth – especially for communities underrepresented in cleantech.
Foresight brings together innovators, industry, investors, government, and academia to address today’s most urgent climate issues and accelerate the global transition to a net-zero economy. Foresight has supported nearly 900 ventures that have created over 7,000 jobs, raised $1.3B in capital and earned nearly $350M and counting in revenue. Foresight’s audacious goal is for Canada to be the first G7 country to reach net zero, and the Climate Ventures team is fully aligned – we have work to do!
SOCIAL INNOVATION CANADA
In 2022, as part of an agreement with CSI, Climate Ventures became an initiative led by SI Canada (which is focused on national programming and partnerships). We’re proud to be one of the many successful projects to have been incubated by CSI.
Working with Foresight and the team at SI Canada has been extremely fruitful, and we’re now ensuring that we can work together even more closely and effectively.
Social Innovation Canada is working to provide the collaborative infrastructure to strengthen Canada’s social innovation ecosystem, empowering people, organizations and systems with the tools, knowledge, skills and connections that they need to solve complex problems. SI Canada runs a national community of social innovation practitioners, provides social innovation education, and is running a housing affordability lab, among other programs. SI Canada seeks to change systems so they work for people and the planet, and with the climate crisis being one of the biggest challenges we face, it’s no surprise that climate is one of its core pillars.
By collaborating and streamlining, we’re excited to do more together across acceleration, innovation challenges and ecosystem building. Our goal remains to grow Canadian climate ventures and to help corporate leaders and governments meet their climate targets while improving the lives of Canadians, and we’re setting up the structure and systems to do just that.
Earth Tech 2020 Cohort
Climate Ventures’ journey and impact have been made possible by our incredible staff, advisors and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, our funders (special shout out to the RBC Foundation, the Peter Gilgan Foundation, Bullfrog Power, the ECHO Foundation, and the Government of Canada), the Centre for Social Innovation, and the many entrepreneurs that have placed their trust in us. This work will continue together and only grow stronger.
Thanks to all!