WaterTAP helps to connect, accelerate and celebrate Ontario's water tech sector

Ontario is a global leader in advanced water technologies and solutions, with a thriving innovation ecosystem that consists of more than 900 water-related companies and over 100 research centres. This is thanks in part to the province's quarter-million inland lakes, rivers and groundwater resources, and four Great Lakes. With these abundant natural resources, there is a clear opportunity for businesses, organizations, research institutions and government agencies to create and deliver environmentally responsible and leading-edge water and wastewater technologies, products and services. But the province's success in this area is also due to the immense support that water technology entrepreneurs and companies receive from the provincial government and organizations like WaterTAP.

Helping an industry thrive

The Government of Ontario recognized the increased development of water technologies in the province and created the Water Technology Acceleration Project, known as WaterTAP, under Ontario's Water Opportunities Act in 2010. This non-profit organization brings private-sector experience and guidance to industry to accelerate the growth and prosperity of Ontario's water sector.

The organization uses its extensive international network to connect companies to the capital, customer and partnership opportunities they need to successfully enter the water technology markets in Ontario and across the globe. It also offers a successful accelerator program to help these companies with strategic business growth initiatives. To support a thriving sector, WaterTAP makes great efforts to:

  • Strengthen the co-operation between Ontario's public and private water industry institutions and businesses
  • Provide advice to government on how to support and develop this critical sector
  • Remove barriers to growth and technology adoption by identifying and addressing regulatory, financial and procurement issues

Most importantly, the organization works with companies one-on-one to improve their business practices and prepare them for market entry and investment. Its key programs include the Direct Assistance Program, which helps water technology companies address key business risks, including strategic, operational and financial challenges, as well as opportunities, by providing access to world-class market development expertise. Meanwhile, WaterTAP's Better Best Practices Initiative is a series of collaborative projects that seek to improve water management in Ontario by addressing challenges to adoption faced by technology companies, solution providers and end users.

WaterTAP supported more than $23 million in economic growth in 2016, and Ontario-based companies that have worked with WaterTAP reported creating 176 new jobs in the same year.

Homegrown success

Man in greyter water systems facility

Water technology companies in Ontario are making major contributions to the responsible management of the world's water supply. They have contributed to increasing energy efficiency and lowering the carbon emissions involved in moving and treating water, enhancing leak detection and curbing water loss, designing new approaches for water reuse, and developing new and enhancing existing resource and recovery technologies.

The province is ripe with homegrown innovation, but many of these companies need help with various aspects of their businesses, and WaterTAP has the resources and capabilities to offer this assistance. In fact, companies working with WaterTAP grow up to 45% faster thanks to the organization's invaluable support and the connections it provides.

"Ontario is an ideal place for water technology companies to grow. Through the provincial and federal governments, and industry partners such as the Southern Ontario Water Consortium and the Ontario Clean Water Agency, there is a great deal of support and resources for growing businesses in Ontario's innovation ecosystem. Through our universities and colleges, companies also have access to incredible talent and some of the world's top industry experts," says Dr. Peter Gallant, WaterTAP's President and CEO.

"WaterTAP's role is to complement these resources at a critical stage of business growth. We support companies as they bring their tested and proven solutions to market."

Here are some examples of WaterTAP's impact in the sector:

  • Scaling up: WatrHub, a big data company that delivers predictive market intelligence on water and wastewater infrastructure needs in Canada and the U.S., has seen major growth since working with WaterTAP's Direct Assistance Program. The insights provided by the WaterTAP team helped WatrHub standardize its product offering and transition from a custom projects delivery model into a scalable subscription-based model, which unlocked an accelerated business growth trajectory. Following this help, the company fast tracked its revenue growth from an average 91% Cumulative Annual Growth Rate in 2013 to 2016, to a more than 300% Annual Growth Rate in 2017.
  • Global connections: WaterTAP's expertise also lies in helping to drive global expansion through its growing network. One notable example comes from Guelph-based MANTECH Inc., a manufacturer of innovative water-quality analysis systems that help industrial facilities, laboratories and utilities provide clean, safe water. Some initial introductions by WaterTAP opened doors to funding, which resulted in MANTECH's PeCOD analyzer being selected as the monitoring device to work alongside advanced oxidation process treatment technologies to reduce recalcitrant COD in pulp and paper mills in Finland.
  • Value proposition: Thornhill-based Iconac turned to WaterTAP's Direct Assistance Program when it needed funding to support the development and validation of its real-time, non-invasive pipe inspection technology. WaterTAP helped it craft an enticing, yet realistic, value proposition, which led to the company securing a pilot in the U.S.
  • Marketing support: Echologics, a Mississauga-based leader in non-invasive acoustic water main leak detection and pipeline assessment technologies, enlisted WaterTAP's support in the launch of its three-acre R&D facility in Walkerton. Through the Direct Assistance Program, WaterTAP helped the company with a marketing and communications plan to promote the launch, engage a global audience, and secure media coverage in key markets.

A clean future

Woman at bishop water technology facility

"Since WaterTAP began operations in 2012, we have seen a significant shift in the way Ontario's water sector performs globally. More companies have expanded their reach, bringing disruptive solutions to new markets," says Dr. Gallant. "Together with our partners in this innovation ecosystem, we look forward to continuing to support our companies as they work to address the world's water challenges. Ontario's water sector has incredible global potential, and we're only just scratching the surface."

By offering this vital support to water technology companies, WaterTAP is not only helping to build a strong water sector in Ontario, but the organization is also helping to ensure quality water, and a better world, for future generations.

Contact the Ontario Investment Office to learn more about opportunities for cleantech companies in Ontario

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