Philippe Saint-Just in the centre
Philippe Saint-Just
Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Product - REEF Technology

Canada’s Adaptive Regulatory Environment in Cleantech

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Takeaways

  1. It is easy for businesses to get the talent they need in Canada no matter the field, thanks to a highly educated populace.
  2. The business and innovation environment in Canada encourages collaboration and constant feedback, allowing businesses to carefully hone their products.
  3. Canada is highly interested in businesses that are forward-looking, with partners in academia, industry, and government eager to share expertise.

Action

Foreign investors should know that the regulatory environment in Canada is flexible and business-friendly, thanks to governments at all levels that are eager to forge relationships with businesses and investors. Through these relationships, Canadian governments are able to collaborate with businesses on building more productive regulations without compromising the country’s core values.


What does REEF Technology do? 

At REEF Technology, we transform underutilized urban real estate into what we call neighbourhood hubs. Neighbourhood hubs allow us to work with local producers of goods and services and bring their products to the centres of neighborhoods.

What that means is that we are at the intersection of several macro trends that are happening in the urban landscape. The first one is on-demand delivery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of being able to order things such as food and goods from the home and office was accelerated. 

The second trend is last-mile logistics and all the different ways that it takes shape. Whether you are talking about personal mobility or the mobility of goods and services, REEF is at the centre of that. 

The last trend is the 15-minute city. The 15-minute city is the idea that cities should be liveable and walkable within a 15-minute radius from where you live and work.

REEF sits on those macro trends. Going back to the neighbourhood hub, we essentially have a real estate platform that allows us to bring goods and services to communities in a way that supports those macro trends. 

Why have you chosen to set up in Canada?

We work from the West Coast to the East Coast, across all of the major Canadian metropolitan areas. Canada has a great intersection of good talent and environment, which is very conducive to urban renewal and taking cities into the 21st century.

Back in 2019 when we really became REEF, we acquired a major parking operator in Canada that already had operations across the country. We are now the largest parking operator and the largest operator of delivery-only kitchens in North America. Having the physical presence, operations, and people really made Canada a great place to do business.

How would you characterize Canada’s global competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors? 

We have had a great experience working in Canada. It is hard to generalize because every province has its own approach and regulations. Overall, we have had a very positive relationship with the city and provincial governments as well as customers in those markets. 

We have expanded our business model throughout the country. We were able to do that because of the staff and people that we have working in Canada. We have about 1,500 employees in the country. We were also helped by our approach to having deep relationships with local governments. 

Canada is an interesting place where people are interested in innovation and in bringing in companies that do work with a view of the future. At the same time, Canada does not compromise on the core values that drive its economy and culture. This ties back to this idea of the 15-minute city. In Canada, we have had great thought and implementation partners to help us realize our ideas of the 15-minute city and also provide us with feedback. Together, we collaboratively find regulatory paths to bring about urban renewal to change the urban landscapes of Canadian cities.

What is the talent pool like in Canada? 

One of the interesting things about our company is that even though we are a tech company, we hire more than just engineers and technical folks. Our two main verticals are the parking industry and the restaurant industry. As a tech company, we have been able to bring on parking leadership as well as kitchen leadership from Canada into our ranks. 

“The talent pool in Canada is deep and we have been able to recruit well.”

Finding talent is something every company deals with, but we have been able to build a great team in Canada. We have also been able to continue a lot of the work that the parking company we acquired started. The talent pool in Canada is deep and we have been able to recruit well.

What is the innovation ecosystem like in Canada? 

One of our major development centres and offices is in Vancouver. We have a number of folks on our technology team who work out of Vancouver and we have hired out of Vancouver as well. Vancouver is in the Western corridor of technology innovation and we have been able to find good talent as well as partnerships in that area. 

“Innovation in Canada also comes from having partners to update regulations and the way things were done previously to open up the way for companies like ours to do business in Canada.”

Innovation goes beyond just partnerships with tech companies. In our case, since a lot of our business is about reinventing cities, our relationship with the government is also a big part of that innovation. Innovation in Canada also comes from having partners to update regulations and the way things were done previously to open up the way for companies like ours to do business in Canada.


How well-suited are Canadian cities for the 15-minute city concept?

Canadian cities are extremely well-adapted for urban renewal due to their focus on quality of life. Canadians focus on the values they want to bring into the cities, and so there is a core that is already built up for the 15-minute city.

What we are trying to do is help that core expand into these modern macro trends of last-mile logistics and on-demand deliveries without having to compromise—often, we are only able to do one and not the other. Instead, our focus is on how to allow people who live within these cities to get food and retail on demand without clogging up the streets and hurting the quality of life in their cities. 

Our model leverages an urban asset that people do not really think about too much: parking lots. Parking lots can be reutilized for different use cases. They can be used as a staging platform for logistics and the micro-production that will exist in the core of the neighbourhood.


What would you pitch to foreign investors about Canada if you only had 30 seconds? 

The two things I would highlight are the quality of talent in Canada and the ability to recruit people who have technical expertise as well as an understanding of the world and its opportunities. Furthermore, Canada has a regulatory environment that is willing to adapt and work with companies to bring them into the country and make them successful. Those are the two things that we have noticed and we think others should see as well.

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Philippe Saint-Just in the centre
Philippe Saint-Just
Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Product - REEF Technology

Bio: Philippe Saint-Just is the Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Product at REEF Technology. He Co-Founded the startup ParkJockey in 2013, where he also served as Chief Technology Officer. ParkJockey was a parking revenue and access control company which in 2019, changed its name to REEF Technology. Saint-Just studied at the University of Alabama where he specialized in Computer Science. 

Organization Profile: REEF Technology is the largest operator of mobility, logistics hubs, and neighborhood kitchens in North America with a network of 4,500 locations and 15,000 employees. They transform underutilized urban spaces into neighborhood hubs that connect people to locally curated goods, services, and experiences. Their parking solutions seek to boost the efficiency of parking spaces while maximizing their asset value through a multi-use model.