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Robert Niven’s pitch to concrete producers is attractive: his Nova Scotia-based company, CarbonCure Technologies Inc., boasts the ability to make concrete stronger and less harmful to the planet.

Yet it remains a tough sell, especially in Canada.

“This is a very traditional industry,” says Niven, CarbonCure’s CEO and founder. “I think the saying is: ‘Everyone is from Missouri — The Show-Me State.’ Everyone wants to see (our technology) work in their own plant before making a sales decision. That puts the brakes on the pace of adoption.”

Despite the industry’s conservatism, CarbonCure has installed its technology in about 40 concrete plants, up from just a dozen plants a year ago. Niven says that surge in acceptance is largely due to CarbonCure’s adoption of an infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) sales model. 

The IAAS model, which is used elsewhere in the clean-technology sector, is similar to the software-as-a-service model used in the tech sector. In the case of CarbonCure, the model involves installing its technology in concrete plants at no cost to the operator. CarbonCure, instead, gets a monthly payment, while the concrete producer reaps the benefits of the technology, free of a large one-time capital investment.

“Just about every manufacturer will tell you this: there’s no capital budget right now for new investment,” Niven says. “So this gets around that capital expenditure question.”

The result: Niven predicts CarbonCure’s technology will be installed in 110 concrete plants by Oct. 1. “That’s largely due to this model and, of course, the technology itself,” he says.

CarbonCure’s technology injects waste carbon dioxide into concrete, making it stronger. The improved concrete enables manufacturers to use less cement, thus cutting costs while allowing them to promote the use of a green product.


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