What makes an innovative company today? This question inspired a meeting between CB and the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E), an independent, non-partisan policy institute, in the spring of 2021. Amid a global pandemic, escalating environmental crises and surging demands to redress racial and gender inequities, we felt a need to identify businesses that measure success differently. We wanted a meaningful benchmark for ventures that prioritize creativity, social impact, sustainability and inclusivity as much as market share and profit margins. Thus was born the New Innovators List, a new annual ranking of Canadian companies forging a more progressive path forward. You’ll get to know our inaugural cohort in the pages that follow.

So, how did we get here? First, we engaged BII+E to develop a comprehensive methodology. Companies then applied for consideration in August and September of 2021 via an online application survey, which collected information related to innovation, environment, impact intentionality and diversity, equity and inclusion. We analyzed the data and crafted a long list of top performers, which our panel of judges then evaluated to determine 50 winners. This year’s ranking includes a Top 10 Best and Brightest, featuring companies that model forward-focused capitalism on several fronts. (Think of these as the all-around overachievers.) It also includes four best-in-category lists, each showcasing 10 ventures with exemplary performance in environmental work, people policies, innovation-driving activities or impact intentionality.

In 2022, business must do better. The New Innovators show us how.


Environment Leaders

The companies here each scored highly on metrics related to sustainability, thanks to their efforts to eliminate all avoidable waste, their ability to measure greenhouse gas emissions and their supply-chain management and its environmental impact. In short: They show how green is good. Click the + on the right to see the top 10 Environmental Leaders.

Assent Compliance

Head office: Ottawa
Founding date: 2010
Employees: 820
Assent Compliance makes software that helps companies manage supply-chain data, equipping clients to make more environmentally sustainable decisions. In the interest of leading by example, it crafts all internal policies—from office renovations (installing dimmable LED lights reduced energy consumption by 60 per cent) to travel rules—through a green lens.


Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2012
Employees: 15
You might not consider a plastics business an eco-trailblazer, but CANEI recycles the stuff, repurposing it for use by manufacturers. It has diverted thousands of tonnes of waste from landfills and oceans—saving approximately two megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions for each.

Eco Guardian

Head office: Newmarket, Ont.
Founding date: 2004
Employees: 22
Eco Guardian designs and manufactures compostable single-use cups, containers, cutlery and bowls. Their products—several of which are patented—make some of the more waste-heavy habits of modern life (on-the-go latte runs, late-night sushi orders) much more sustainable.


Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2020
Employees: 4
Everist is building a waste-free beauty brand that produces anhydrous (read: just add water) paste-textured body washes, shampoos and conditioners. The company is fully validated as carbon neutral by the nonprofit certification agency Climate Neutral.


Head office: Oakville, Ont.
Founding date: 2000
Employees: 2,099
Geotab, which provides telematics and analytics for fleets, recently audited its own sustainability. The result? A bold plan to halve its emissions by 2030 and be completely carbon-neutral by 2040.

Green Standards

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2009
Employees: 29
Green Standards has been bringing the circular economy to cubicle farms around the world since 2009, when it started giving organizations’ used office furniture new life via donation, resale and recycling. To date, the company has diverted more than 85,000 tonnes of chairs, desks and literal water coolers from landfills.

Media One Creative Inc.

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2012
Employees: 30 (plus 270 contractors)
Media One is in the marketing and advertising, with considerable experience in brand storytelling with a purpose—for instance, a recent film on period poverty for menstrual-product manufacturer DivaCup—so it is important to walk the talk: When recently seeking a new office, it insisted on a LEED-certified building with extensive environmental policies.

Natural Pod

Head office: Burnaby, B.C.
Founding date: 2010
Employees: 7
Natural Pod makes wooden furniture (including desks, shelves and benches) used in educational institutions and community spaces, and its own processes are a lesson in sustainable capitalism: From sourcing (Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber) to shipping (flat-packed with minimal packaging) to end-of-life care (all materials are reusable, meaning no product ever need end up in a landfill), every action supports the business’s social purpose to put the environment and people before profit.

Rakuten Kobo

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2009
Employees: 379
It would be easy to laud Rakuten Kobo simply for the role its digital reading technologies play in global efforts to reduce the tens of millions of trees used every year to make books. But the company also works hard to keep its own house clean, refurbishing returned devices for resell, offsetting emissions of its consumer products and engaging in reviews of its environment management system and sustainability processes.

Tru Earth

Head office: Port Moody, B.C.
Founding date: 2019
Employees: 198
Having developed a pretty planet-friendly suite of laundry, bathroom and kitchen products—including popular detergent sheets, which offer a carbon-friendly alternative to single-use plastic jugs—Tru Earth regularly scrutinizes its supply chain for ways to source, manufacture and transport materials more sustainably.


People Leaders

Each of these companies reports highly diverse workforces, with substantial representation from LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled, refugee and religious-minority communities. They also offer a broad range of retention and recruitment programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Click the + on the right to see the top 10 People Leaders.

Array of Stars Inc.

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2013
Employees: 20
It fitting that design and technology agency Array of Stars is a place where employee creativity and flexibility thrive—its work is to “bring the future to life every day.” The collaboration needed to make this happen has continued in the COVID age: As a digital-first company, the shift to remote work was a seamless transition.

CarePros Enterprise Inc.

Head office: Edmonton
Founding date: 2017
Employees: 175
CarePros does the vital work of providing supports to at-risk children and youth. Its employees are trained to serve clients using a trauma-informed lens, which makes for an empathetic and respectful workplace.

Fuze HR Solutions Inc.

Head office: Montreal
Founding date: 2006
Employees: 145
Fuze is in the staffing business, placing employees in roles ranging from entry level to executive, so it’s important for the company to model best practices in its own organization. More than 85 per cent of its employees are women, as is more than half of its senior management team.

Herbaland Naturals Inc.

Head office: Richmond, B.C.
Founding date: 2009
Employees: 225
Herbaland manufactures nutritional gummy products, holding more than 50 per cent of Health Canada’s natural health product licenses in the category. The company is adept at understanding the needs of its diverse consumer base, which is no accident: 80 per cent of managerial positions are held by women and individuals of colour.

Juno College of Technology

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2012
Employees: 37
Training institution Juno is on a mission to diversify tech; it operates a charitable arm devoted solely to that mandate. Further, it is the first school in Canada to offer Income Share Agreements, a funding model that allows students to pay reduced tuition upfront, with the balance paid once they’ve graduated and are earning substantial income, creating a more inclusive and equitable option for students to fund a career change.

K2 Group

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2017
Employees: 350
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, real-estate development firm K2 Group gave every team member a raise. It also gives employees paid time off for mental-health reasons.

LED Smart Inc.

Head office: Surrey, B.C.
Founding date: 1995
Employees: 65
LED Smart develops smart lighting systems used in horticultural, germicidal and transportation applications, among others. More than 90 per cent of its workforce, and more than 80 per cent of its leadership team, are people of colour.

Neighbourly Pharmacy Inc.

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2015
Employees: 2,036
Neighbourly operates pharmacies across Canada, including in many rural, remote and Indigenous communities where it often serves as the most accessible health care available. It’s essential for the company to understand the diverse needs and challenges of these communities, and to play a role in improving challenging conditions; it endeavours to employ local youth and low-income candidates as much as possible.

Russell Industries Corp.

Head office: Burlington, Ont.
Founding date: 1996
Employees: 590
Russell Industries provides project and maintenance services to energy, industrial and marine clients across the country. Its employee base comprises highly skilled tradespeople—not traditionally a diverse cohort—and the company has made progress introducing more women, people of colour and newcomers to Canada to this career path. A “zero tolerance policy for jerks” helps ensure their success.

Vertical Staffing Resources

Head office: Brampton, Ont.
Founding date: 2013
Employees: 452
Vertical places people in clerical, IT, engineering, construction, medical and executive roles, operating a mobile app to give job-hunters quick access to available opportunities. Many of these roles are temporary and during the pandemic, Vertical took extra measures to protect these workers, providing rapid tests and offering discounted PPE.


Innovation Leaders

These companies build cultures where “normal” is constantly being challenged. They each operate a range of programs meant to inspire innovation, like formal ideation processes, compensation tied to new ideas and dedicated time allocated to creative thinking. Click the + on the right to see the top 10 Innovation Leaders.


Head office: St. John’s
Founding date: 2018
Employees: 22
BreatheSuite’s respiratory-care platform uses inhaler sensors and app-enabled remote health coaching to help patients, their families and health-care providers breathe easier—literally and figuratively.

Cloud DX

Head office: Kitchener, Ont.
Founding date: 2014
Employees: 62
Cloud DX’s virtual-care platform employs digital technologies to help hospitals and clinicians monitor patients remotely. Big thinking starts at the top: 100 per cent of exec time is devoted to fostering innovation.

​​​​Diamond Therapeutics

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2018
Employees: 11
As a company in the brain business—developing low-dose and non-hallucinogenic psychedelic therapies meant to treat mental-health conditions—Diamond Therapeutics keeps an open mind: It is fielding a global survey to users and non-users alike to better benchmark popular views toward psychedelics.

Edesa Biotech Inc.

Head office: Markham, Ont.
Founding date: 2015
Employees: 17
Edesa is a drug developer currently working on a candidate to treat the hospitalized COVID-19 patients facing the most lethal effects of the disease. Among its innovation-driving policies: a monthly Journal Club wherein employees, interns and partners meet to critically evaluate recent scientific and medical literature. Like your book club, but—no offence—probably more productive.

Giatec Scientific Inc.

Head office: Nepean, Ont.
Founding date: 2010
Employees: 67
Giatec is in the business of smart concrete—using sensors and technology to improve the performance of the ubiquitous building material. To stay forward-looking, it maintains a three-year roadmap for novel software and hardware milestones, backed by its proprietary and patented technologies.


Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2014
Employees: 109
Greenhouse has expanded from a single Toronto shop to a national, vertically integrated, omnichannel beverage business by relentlessly pursuing better ingredients, flavour combinations and operations, including a novel processing method that extends the shelf-life of its products.

RecycleSmart Solutions Inc.

Head office: Richmond, B.C.
Founding date: 2008
Employees: 84
How’s this for some trash talk? RecycleSmart develops and implements smart systems to manage waste and recycling for businesses across Canada, letting customers know not only when bins are being filled, but what they’re being filled with.

Studio AM and River

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2019
Employees: 12
One Toronto studio houses two related upstarts:
Studio AM
(a multi-disciplinary creative studio) and its offshoot, River (a platform that facilitates virtual filming). The latter emerged from the former, and is constantly being refined thanks to consistent feedback from staff, clients and end-users.

The Canadian Shield (founded by InkSmith)

Head office: Waterloo, Ont.
Founding date: 2016
Employees: 40
When the pandemic hit, The Canadian Shield’s parent company, InkSmith, pivoted from selling educational technology (think 3-D printers and laser cutters) to using that technology to make medical face shields. The abrupt shift helped meet Canada’s urgent need for domestically-produced PPE and demonstrated the innovation that can come from fast, empathetic responses to real-world crises. It has since added medical-grade face masks and rapid antigen tests to its product offerings.

Transitional Forms

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2018
Employees: 6
Bring on the metaverse: Transitional Forms is building proprietary components for a creative machine intelligence engine that enables users to co-create content with AI. Its goal? To “enable humans to understand what it means to be a machine, and machines what it means to be human.”


Impact Intentionality Leaders

What is impact intentionality? Think of it as mindfulness for business. These companies define their social and environmental purpose. They quantify and track the benefits they create and communicate the effects of what they do to stakeholders. Click the + on the right to see the top 10 Impact Intentionality Leaders.

Blackline Safety Corp.

Head office: Calgary
Founding date: 2004
Employees: 515
Blackline develops wearable technology meant to monitor employee safety in remote industrial applications. It exists to make sure every worker returns home safely every day—a mission that has led to the development of award-winning products, steady growth and expansion into more than 100 countries.


Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2016
Employees: 75
Bonsai is working to make digital commerce more accessible, with the actual buying needs of users informing the development of its content-driven purchasing technology. Its tools currently reach more than 670 million unique visitors on web platforms such as Well+Good, Buzzfeed and Refinery29.


Head office: Ottawa
Founding date: 2012
Employees: 25
CanadaWheels is an online retailer of automotive wheels, tires and parts, working to bring transparency to an industry often known for opacity. The company informs shoppers from all different backgrounds about their buying options, and encourages them to consider sustainable choices.


Head office: Vancouver
Founding date: 2015
Employees: 30
CloudAdvisors operates a digital platform to connect insurers, benefits advisors and employers, introducing new levels of automation and transparency to the insurance business. In doing so, it believes it is helping to democratize access to health care.

Field Trip Health

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2019
Employees: 238

Field Trip
operates facilities, conducts research and provides technology related to psychedelics-based health care, with goals of leading the development of a sustainable industry and delivering “end-to-end experiences that empower anyone to ease their suffering and live life with more joy, wonder and fulfillment.”


Head office: Calgary
Founding date: 2018
Employees: 70
HelpSeeker aims to patch the holes in the social safety net with technology. The B Corp-certified enterprise leverages digital tools to connect people experiencing social challenges with service providers, funders and decision-makers.


Head office: Markham, Ont.
Founding date: 2015
Employees: 19
PakFactory creates custom packaging for businesses, and that means thinking through all aspects: It is transitioning to source 100 per cent of its materials from sustainable environments.

Public Inc.

Head office: Toronto
Founding date: 2008
Employees: 35
Marketing agency Public Inc. has helped to lead the movement to stakeholder capitalism, helping clients such as IBM, Canadian Tire and and Johnson & Johnson leverage social and environmental impact not as a marketing gimmick, but as a business driver.


Head office: Calgary
Founding date: 1993
Employees: 87
It’s hard to classify the “what” of Venturepark, led by Dragon Arlene Dickinson: It includes five communities, offering services that range from funding to marketing. But the “why” is crystal clear: to help incubate and grow a new class of consumer-packaged-goods brands.

Wizmo Solutions Inc.

Head office: Mississauga, Ont.
Founding date: 2015
Employees: 40
Wizmo runs a transportation platform that helps Canadian companies ship their stuff around the world—a needed bit of technological advancement amid the e-commerce boom.

Advice From New Innovators