Last summer, the Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge called on academics, entrepreneurs and inventors of all stripes to pitch their most cost-effective, innovative and user-friendly technologies to measure carbon in nature.
Why does measuring carbon matter? Knowing where the carbon is stored in nature, how much is there, and how much is being captured over time will be crucial to achieving Canada’s international commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
It’s why we made conserving ecosystems — trees, ground cover, peatlands, grasslands, coastal areas, etc. — that capture and store carbon such a key part of our Regenerate Canada plan. Restoring one million hectares of wildlife habitat and protecting another 100 million hectares will help reduce carbon emissions by 30 million tonnes.
Though a variety of approaches for measuring carbon do exist, current methods are expensive, complex and labour intensive, and the data they deliver is often incomplete.
This is a problem that the Tech Challenge aims to solve by calling on the best and brightest to improve measurement of carbon in nature and by providing the structure, resources and funding to make that happen.
Our panel of scientists was blown away by the quality of proposals we received. The potential solutions they brought forward include innovative applications of machine learning, satellite imagery and laser-based LiDAR as well as new ways to incorporate Indigenous knowledge systems.
We’re excited to announce that five exceptional teams have been selected as finalists. Each will receive a $25,000 grant, access to a spot in the Microsoft Entrepreneurship for Positive Impact program and mentorship from participating members of the Microsoft Canada executive team to help them advance their projects.
The Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge finalists are:
- MANTECH, based in Guelph, ON: Rapid assessment of carbon distribution in nature using an innovative hand-held sensor
- Hatfield, based in North Vancouver, BC, with arboSense: Advanced machine learning to estimate tree height and above ground biomass
- Korotu Technology, based in Toronto, ON, with LandSteward: Community forest monitoring and carbon reporting
- Innovatree Carbon Group Ltd., based in Kamloops, BC: Innovatree forest carbon monitoring software
- Laval University, based in Quebec City, QC: Forest BIOmass measurement from 3D terrestrial LiDAR SCANning (BioScan3D)
These final five are now moving forward to the validation phase of the challenge, which means they will have one year to field-test their technology. Based on those results, we will select up to three final award recipients to receive a contract of up to $100,000 to implement their technology.
Congratulations to all for pushing the boundaries of technology to support nature’s role in the fight against climate change.
WWF-Canada’s Nature x Carbon Tech Challenge, supported by RBC Tech for Nature and Microsoft Canada, catalyzes the development of user-friendly and innovative technologies to support community-led measurement of carbon in nature. techhub.wwf.ca