Net-zero mission: Public Procurement

The challenge

We believe that an integral part of solving Canada’s climate crisis lies in the adoption of new clean technology and circular innovations. This starts by creating market demand and momentum for commercial climate solution providers to scale. Governments have significant influence as the single largest purchaser of goods and services in the country. This activity represents 13.3% of GDP and has a critical influence in creating that market demand. However, governments typically make individual procurement decisions, resulting in a limited ability to incent market innovation and manage risks. This is particularly true for Canadian municipalities that collectively have 80% ($160 million) of the public sector purchasing value, but lack the capital, capacity, and coordination toleverage their collective purchasing power.

According to a 2022 report from the Smart Prosperity Institute, “Federal cleantech [and circular economic] procurement can help companies find their first customer, can help validate cleantech, ease their diffusion in the market, and can eventually lead to the growth of innovative cleantech.” This is further strengthened in the mandate letters to four Federal ministers that specifically emphasize the importance of utilizing public procurement to stimulate clean technology solutions as a national priority for Canada’s transition to a low carbon and circular economy.

With over 500 communities across Canada declaring climate emergencies, MaRS and the Circular Innovation Council (CIC) are partnering to facilitate a solution through developing a Clean and Circular Innovation Marketplace.

The Solution:
Circular and Clean Marketplace

The Clean and Circular Innovation Marketplace aims to help Canadian governments of all levels and sizes meet their commitments to achieve national carbon reduction goals by creating market demand for clean and circular solutions through public procurement. Specifically, the online, open source tool will:

  • Connect public sector buyers to vetted cleantech and circular vendors in all of the main procurement spend categories
  • Provide tools and resources to support the development of clean and circular procurement criteria and evaluation mechanisms
  • Establish a platform to link governments of all levels and locations to coordinate and de-risk purchasing activities


  • Roll out of commercial projects that reduce GHG emissions with pathways to scale beyond pilots
  • Simplified procurement and legal processes and criteria that de-risk complex technologies and business models
  • Tested model that governments can leverage to better adopt, deploy, and rapidly scale cleantech and circular innovations
  • Facilitated and coordinated government buying consortiums to share knowledge, pool resources and standardize procurement criteria
  • Improved access and capacity for government staff to work with new low carbon solutions and approaches
  • Increased number of Canadian cleantech and circular companies working with government

The activities and outputs for this work include:

1: Create and Launch a Clean and Circular Innovation Marketplace

A new Clean and Circular Innovation Marketplace will grow the market for low-carbon and circular products and services, providing market entrance opportunities to climate tech and circular solution providers. Specifically, the marketplace will include case studies, best practices, playbooks, and access to tools and implementation support for public procurement officials to facilitate, coordinate and de-risk the procurement process.

2: Establish a Government Procurement Coalition

Public procurement influences are optimized when government spend is coordinated. We will establish a coalition of procurement organizations and practitioners from across Canada and from all levels of government. The coalition will pool interests, knowledge, and engage with cleantech and circular innovators through pre-competitive outreach to gain insight into market readiness. This insight will inform the development of outcome-based criteria prioritizing cleantech and circular innovators.

3: Create and Launch a Venture Certification Program

The Clean and Circular Innovation Marketplace will host an Adoption-Ready Certification Program, created in collaboration with public partners. It will establish strict conditions for listing a solution in the Marketplace and mitigate inherent risks with innovative solutions.

Certified ventures will be included on a pre-qualified, low-carbon and Circular Canadian suppliers list supported by a venture database.

To secure a successful launch, we need your help.

Immediate steps you can take:

1. Sign a letter of support for the mission

2. Join the procurement coalition

3. Reach out to learn more