Toronto accelerator empowers tech entrepreneurs to protect the planet

Jul 29 2020, 1:00 pm

RBC Tech for NatureĀ is a multi-year, global initiative by theĀ RBC FoundationĀ dedicated to preserving the planet’s greatest wealth — our natural ecosystem. It supports new ideas, technologies, and partnerships to address and solve pressing environmental challenges.

In 2019, the world declared a climate crisis, and recent reports have shown that Toronto will likely be one of the top countries impacted by climate change in the next 30 years.

Given what we’ve been handed in 2020, 2019 might seem like a world away, but caring for our planet today is still as important and relevant now as ever.

Enter Earth Tech, a cleantech accelerator run by the Centre for Social Innovationā€™s (CSI) Climate Ventures. As part of the accelerator, groups working on climate or freshwater technology solutions (with big potential for positive impacts on ecosystems) in communities across Canada receive education and coaching provided by the Social Innovation Institute.

Climate Ventures is a dedicated incubator that offers programs, a workspace, and a community to accelerate success and amplify the impact of entrepreneurs and innovators working on climate solutions. The local Toronto initiative currently has over 55 member enterprises and 45 expert advisors.


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In its first year (2018 to 2019), Climate Ventures helped early-stage startups earn and raise $24.5 million — and supported 263 jobs through its accelerator programs. This year, their ventures are on track to raise millions more while supporting hundreds of new jobs.

Their Earth Tech program helps ventures validate their solutions, advance their technologies, become financially sustainable, and create meaningful impact.

Two of the 16 ventures in Earth Tech include Flash Forest, a Canadian drone reforestation company that allows drones to germinate tree seeds, and Water Rangers, an open-data platform that provides water test kits to empower others to protect freshwater.

“We know technology will play an important role in mitigating greenhouse gas pollution, protecting our water, and helping the world achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Barnabe Geis, director of programs at CSI.

“The entrepreneurs and innovators we support are developing and implementing the technologies that can help create a world that will be more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous for all.”

The first cohortĀ of Earth Tech also includes enterprises working on renewable energy, energy storage, vertical and sustainable farming, converting CO2 into chemical fuels, monitoring water quality, and an educational video game for children.

Looking forward to its second year, with recruitment beginning in the fall, Earth Tech will expand to recruit ventures across Canada and support a fresh cohort of climate and water tech entrepreneurs and innovators online.

“At RBC, we believe climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The actions we take today can prepare us with the solutions needed to protect our shared future,” said Valerie Chort, vice president, corporate citizenship at RBC. “Weā€™re proud to be working alongside The Centre for Social Innovation to amplify the impact of social enterprises developing scalable solutions for our environmental challenges.”

At its core, Climate Ventures is about turning an atmospheric transformation into a human transformation — an opportunity for each of us to evolve the way we work, live, and treat our planet.

If youā€™re working on tackling the climate crisis, Climate Ventures can help scale your greater impact. Learn more about Climate Ventures membership and how to apply to be part of the next Earth Tech cohort on their website.Ā  Ā 

RBC believes that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time — and that technology and data have the power to transform and improve our world with long-term solutions. Thatā€™s why RBC Tech for Nature is bringing technology experts, the private and public sector, and charitable partners together to work toward solving our shared environmental challenges. Learn more about RBC Tech for Nature on theirĀ website.

The initiative is a core pillar ofĀ theĀ RBC Climate BlueprintĀ — an enterprise approach to accelerating clean economic growth and supporting clients in the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

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