Bruce Claggett (recently appointed Managing Director at Switchboard Public Relations) connects the dots between the trends, headlines and narratives that are informing the B.C. tech sector.
For October’s Connecting the Dots, Bruce discusses the power of defining a new tech category, the path from passion to media coverage, and why talk-and-no-action can’t be the reality following COP26 in Glasgow.
Tapping the power of a new category of tech
The Short: At CubicFarms’ AMPLIFIED event in Pitt Meadows on October 21, CEO Dave Dinesen said that “you have to see our local chain ag-tech to believe it.” He was right.
The Long: “This is (expletive deleted) awesome… I can’t believe you can do that much with such little water. How?”
It wasn’t so much what an excited reporter blurted, it was that he was still smiling after contorting his body to video CubicFarms’ Crop Motion Technology as it automatically rotated trays of lettuce under rows of LED lights.
That reporter’s reaction during the AMPLIFIED media tour underscores the power of experiencing groundbreaking tech IN PERSON. The launch of local chain ag-tech as its own industry category was certainly impressive, but connecting with a storyteller – in this case a reporter/hydroponics hobbyist – can propel news to the next level. Anyone who listened to that reporter’s subsequent segment on The Shift couldn’t ignore his authentic enthusiasm over what local chain ag-tech means for growing food sustainably with far less water, land and energy.
Where does COP26 land?
The Short: Leaders here in B.C. and around the world need to be seen as onboard with advancing greener technologies as international attention and headlines shift back to climate change. Global summits, like the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, continue to be precariously dangerous for those without plans or a record of achievement, especially in terms of fossil fuel deadlines.
The Long: Show me the money. Show me the action. These themes from the COP26 conference will frame approaches to policy. Leaders won’t want to be called out on inaction by pundits seeking proof and examples. Canada’s environmental record, near the bottom of the G7 pack in terms of emissions, won’t stand up to years of scrutiny. I expect demographically savvy politicians and media outlets to continue to focus more attention on climate, through resourcing cleantech accelerators and innovators, as a new generation of Canadians considers action to be non-negotiable. It’s a reality that was not lost on the leaders in the last federal election, as every platform outlined approaches to getting a better environmental report card.
COP26 nudged our provincial government to unveil its heavily scrutinized CleanBC and the Road Map to 2030, a policy to link industry and new technologies with opportunities for clean, low-carbon growth. Will it withstand eight more provincial budgets and any change in government? To answer that, I’m reminded of the power of marketing and media demographics. And also math. While many of tomorrow’s voters are open to new ideas, polling consistently shows the environment is not open to debate. Positioning this evergreen (excuse the pun) sentiment as policy will ensure political success for years.
Meanwhile, this focus gives rise to opportunities, especially for cleantech innovators with compelling stories of how and why their ideas are important. As a friend and former journalist colleague pointed out, we’re hearing more and more tech content on podcasts, radio talk shows and across social media. That said, I’m also aware of tech leaders who have great ideas but still need to connect to listeners, readers and important stakeholders. The challenge ahead is for no one to be left in the dust as the B.C. and Canadian cleantech ecosystem scales.
Bring it on!