Hodgins Memorial Lecture on Sustainable Development

March 19th 2009, the annual Hodgin’s Memorial Lecture at McMaster University was presented by Dr. Vicky Sharpe, President and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). SDTC is a government formed corporation whose mandate is to provide funding for Clean Technology projects which are post research and development, but pre-market.

The organization has an annual budget for investment of about $500 million dollars funded by the federal Government and it partners with industry participants and provicial governments, which provide another 2/3 rds of the overall project funding for any of the initiatives. SDTC facilitates partnerships, coaches participants and has had a significant track record of getting products to the phase when they are ready Investment and marketing.

Ms. Sharpe described the current global situation as boiling the frog by slowly turning up the heat so the frog has time to acclimatize to the water while it cooks. With climate scientests now projecting a point of no return for carbon of 450 (on some accounts 350) ppm (parts per million) and with the earth’s atmosphere already at 387ppm, we are already into very mirky waters and there is need to act as quickly to get many of these new technologies to market. While projects are proprietary to the various companies supported by the funding, some information is found on the SDTC web-site at http://sdtc.ca

While technological expertise in research is one of Canada’s strongest qualities, the economic downturn coupled with Canada’s conservative investment environment is weaking the situation for clean tech development. Ms. Sharpe encourages private investors to look at some of the many projects born of highly skilled Canadian scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs. While having one of the highest level educational and research environments, she pointed out that Canada has an excellent opportunity to become a net exporter of technology. However, she warns that if investment in such projects stall, we will soon find ourselves importing those same technologies.

In attendance at the lecture were Mr. Howard Shearer, President and CEO of Hitachi Canada, a former McMaster Engineering Graduate, the David S. Wilkinson, Dean of the faculty of Engineering of McMaster University, and former CEO of Gennum Corporation and professor, Dr. Doug Barber as well as other prominant individuals, current and former McMaster Engineering students and faculty members.

Garth Schmalenberg

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