China questions Canadian cleantech companies should consider

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Where MacArthur sees major hurdles for Canadian firms though is in Canada’s relatively small market size due to its small population, abundance of resources and relatively few overt environmental challenges compared with other markets. He also cites inadequate technology deployment funding including venture capital, and a manufacturing base that is not robust enough to get many of these valuable solutions tested and proven at industrial scale.
Enter China, a potential marketplace not encumbered by those limitations. China by no means will be the answer for everyone. Yet the size of potential markets and an abundance of regulatory and monetary incentives for cleantech solutions, make a persuasive case for Canadian cleantech firms to take a close look.

Western cleantech start-ups and SMEs mainly come to China for one or more of:

  1. a market for current, proven cleantech and sustainable solutions;
  2. a source of capital, finance or low-cost R&D and manufacturing resources; or
  3. a collaboration platform for supplying products and solutions to global markets.

So, how do Canadian cleantech SMEs get noticed, gain access to, and develop such opportunities in China? There is no cookie-cutter approach. For one, cleantech covers a broad umbrella of sectors seeking cleaner inputs, more efficient processes and less waste applicable across almost any sector. Secondly, China is made up of dozens of regional and localized markets (as opposed to one huge bucket) each with their own priorities, administrative procedures, and institutions tasked with planning and implementing their clean up.

Canadian SMEs interested in China therefore should consider focusing initial efforts on gaining the accurate and relevant information that will help them i) understand whether they indeed have legitimate opportunities to pursue, ii) understand clearly what specific value and proprietary knowhow they are prepared to bring to the opportunities, and iii) understand the particular partnerships they will need to develop and maintain in order to access and develop the opportunities. A useful exercise to help assess potential, risks, and options involves considering three key questions:

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