With offices in southern Ontario, Innovia GEO Corp. is dedicated to developing innovative ways to increase the use and adoption of renewable thermal energy systems. We spoke to Andrew Lee, President, to learn more about how the company is rethinking geothermal and making it a more affordable choice.
Describe your core technology(ies). What makes your solution different than anything else on the market? How is your company contributing to a cleaner, greener future?
Innovia GEO is focused on developing technologies to tap into an enormous renewable energy source sitting right beneath our feet to heat and cool our buildings and homes: geothermal. Geothermal HVAC systems use the stable temperature of the ground to provide efficient and renewable heating and cooling. However, the traditional method of drilling plastic pipes hundreds of feet deep to circulate a fluid to exchange heat with the ground is costly.
Our approach is different. We’re designing technologies for softer shallow soils where we can use foundation construction methods to reduce the cost of installing a geothermal system. Our first product, GEOPiles, integrates geothermal functionality into steel foundation piles so you can get your geothermal system directly from the foundation of your building. By piggybacking off infrastructure already going into the ground, we can drastically reduce the cost of adopting a geothermal HVAC system.
Other than coffee, what gets you out of bed in the morning? How does this work connect with your core beliefs and values?
My one-year-old daughter who is an early riser tops the list! I know this might sound a bit cliché, but she’s also the reason why I do what I do. We try to do all we can to provide the best for our children, so we should all want to provide them with a planet with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. Using the very earth beneath our feet to sustainably heat and cool our homes is how I can help contribute to this future.
Tell us about a recent win (or wins) or your company.
Innovia GEO was selected as one of the Cleantech Open Northeast Regional winners. The Cleantech Open Accelerator is the world’s largest clean technology accelerator program. We were fortunate to have been selected to participate as one of just five Canadian companies of the 122 in the 2021 cohort. Our team is very proud to have represented the Canadian and Ontario cleantech communities on the global stage.
What’s next for your company?
We have a very exciting 2022 ahead of us. We’re currently evaluating some commercial pilot opportunities and are also working to get a full-scale pilot project installed for a second technology we have been developing. On the financing front, we’re also getting our plans ready to raise a seed round later this year.
Finally, what’s on your team’s wish list for Ontario’s cleantech sector?
Programs that can help unlock early-stage venture funding. There are phenomenal programs to support technology at the research stage and there is also great support from organizations like BDC, EDC, and our trade commissioners that really help established companies grow. Compared to other jurisdictions, where we could really improve is offering support for companies that are just starting to get their technologies to market. In the cleantech sector, a lot of what we do tends to be hard tech with longer more capital-intensive pathways to market, so we tend to feel it more. Fortunately, I think there’s recognition of this challenge. The new Graphite IAF IV seed fund (supported by the MaRS IAF and the Ontario government) is a great example of a step in the right direction.
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