Canadian Commission for UNESCO Working Group on AI Ethics & SDGs

Phil was recently chosen to appointed to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) Working Group on AI Ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Phil joins other distinguished colleagues in the fields of artificial intelligence and sustainability. This working group is made up of experts in artificial intelligence research and will work with the CCUNESCO Secretariat to develop proposal for applying AI to advance the realization of sustainable development goals in Canada.

Talk on Self-Driving Labs at Future Labs Live

On Sept 17th, Phil gave a talk at Future Labs Live on Materials Acceleration Platforms (MAPs), or self-driving labs for the discovery of new clean energy materials.

Future Labs Live is an all-inclusive networking conference that will explore innovation and technological advances within the laboratory space, across all industries. It brings together leading Laboratory Heads from across the pharma, biotech, agriculture, chemical and energy industries to come up with the ideas, the tech, and the processes, that’ll transform the lab of tomorrow.

Panelist at Mission Innovation Clean Energy Ministerial

Phil was a recent panelist at the 11th Clean Energy Ministerial Side Event on a discussion on the journey of clean energy innovators. Phil represented Canada as the Mission Innovation Champion for this year and spoke about his experiences in developing clean technology.

This public-facing side event aims to take a deep dive into the journey of individual innovators that – through their own efforts and initiatives – bring new clean energy solutions to society, often with the support of public and/or private funding vehicles or non-financial enabling policy frameworks. To leverage the potential of innovators to spearhead the clean energy transition, the virtual roundtable, moderated by a high-level MI-member government official, will highlight the role of these innovators in accelerating the transition, as well as their vision on technology and policies. MI Champions and Young Innovators will share their experience, with particular reference to their experience of public R&D programs, philanthropic and investment vehicles. The conclusions and findings of the session will contribute to the discussion among Mission Innovation decision makers, to shape the new wave of global innovation efforts in particular through Mission Innovation 2.0.

You can see the video of the entire side event below here:

Panelist on the Future of Hydrogen at the Energy Future Forum

Phil was a panelist for a Hydrogen Workshop hosted by the Energy Future Forum. Phil spoke about the role that national labs have in developing innovating technologies and supporting the scale up of hydrogen.

The Energy Future Forum is a pan-Canadian and multi-year initiative that is working to address climate action and our energy future around one table. Its mission is to develop practical measures that help Canada meet or exceed our 2030 emissions targets on the way to a net zero future, and that strengthen an innovative economy, deepen shared prosperity and enhance national unity. The Forum includes leaders from business and government, along with academic, environmental and Indigenous organizations, comprising participants from five regions. The foundational partners – RBC, Suncor Energy, Hydro-Quebec and the Ivey Foundation, together with PPF – are determined to see this collaborative effort map out an ambitious set of actions that are environmentally sound, economically beneficial and publicly acceptable.

Pipelines and Turbines Podcast “Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge”

Phil was recently a guest on the podcast Pipelines and Turbines hosted by Jason Switzer, Leor Rotchild and Dan Zilnik. This podcast covers energy issues in Canada.

Phil talks about a range of topics including why it’s so difficult to scale clean energy technologies, pathways to decarbonize hard to abate sectors in industry, and his work at the National Research Council.

You can listen to the podcast episode below.

Corporate Knights Op-ed “If you want a diverse workforce, you need diverse leadership”

Phil recently published an opinion editorial article on Corporate Knights, a publication focused on promoting clean capitalism. As one of the world’s largest circulation (147K+) magazines focused on the intersection of business and sustainability, Corporate Knights is the most prominent brand in the clean capitalism media space.

You can read the op-ed online here or below:

If you want a diverse workforce, you need diverse leadership

I never had a role model in senior management who looked like me – this needs to change

When I was young, all I wanted to be when I grew up was white. As a new Canadian living in Windsor, Ontario, I didn’t want to be seen as the “Filipino” kid. I wanted to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of adobo chicken on rice for lunch. I wanted to belong, like everyone else.

As I charged through youth and into adolescence, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily white that I wanted to be – I just wanted to be successful. But I never had a professional role model who looked like me. Sure, Filipino people are considered hard workers (something my parents never let me forget), but the positions I would see them occupy were low-skilled and service work – janitors, customer service, labourers. Always the nurse, but never the doctor. To be clear, these are honourable professions: my partner is a nurse, and in my humble opinion, she is the best that humanity has to offer. These are, after all, the workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

I learned early on that education would be the tool I needed to forge a better life. I leveraged my thirst for knowledge into a PhD at the University of Toronto, where I had the luck to be mentored by professor Ted Sargent – one of the most ambitious, effective and successful people I’ve ever known. Suddenly, I was publishing in the world’s best scientific journals, travelling the world, summer interning at IBM in New York or UC Berkeley in California, and competing in the finals of the Carbon XPRIZE. Today, I run a seven-year, $57 million collaborative research program at the National Research Council to develop transformative technologies to decarbonize Canada’s economy.

At 28, I’m the youngest-ever director of the NRC. I sit on the board of directors for CMC Research Institutes, a non-profit focused on industrial decarbonization. I am a mentor for Creative Destructive Lab, an accelerator that brings science-based start-ups to life. I can proudly say I clawed my way to the decision-making table. I owe a lot of this success to the mentors in my life – all of whom were white. As they say, it’s all about who you know. Unfortunately, many visible minorities don’t know many leaders.

It’s not hard to see why, as a child, I would conflate being white with being successful. Leaders in Canada are overwhelmingly white. Only 10% of top executives at Canada’s Big Six banks and two large life insurers are visible minorities. Earlier this year, disclosures under the Canada Business Corporations Act showed that of 255 directors in S&P/TSX 60 companies, only 14 identified as a visible minority. The gap between whites and visible minorities is only set to widen, as 30% of the national population could identify as a visible minority by 2031. Canada’s workforce is becoming more diverse, but its bosses are not.

A diverse leadership team is not only more representative of the workforce and general population; it’s also good business. A recent report by McKinsey and Company shows that more ethnically diverse executive teams outperformed less diverse teams on profitability by 36%. Diverse perspectives lead to more creative solutions, greater understanding, and trust across gender, ethnic and cultural lines.

Diversity in leadership is necessary; to get there we need to mentor the visible minorities within our organizations.
First, we need to ensure that a robust candidate pool exists, with greater representation of visible minorities. Simple steps like blocking out the names on resumés can be effective in removing bias against non-Anglo-sounding names. Once we establish a pool of talented individuals, we need to match them up with leaders (yes, especially white ones) who can help them develop and grow. While there may not be many leaders who look like me today, there certainly won’t be any tomorrow if we place the burden of visible minority mentorship on the few visible minority leaders we do have.

Lastly, we need to be open and empathetic to each other. While it sounds cliché, communication really is the most important thing.

I no longer want to be white when I grow up. I want to realize myself fully in all the complexities of character that entails as an innovator and change-maker, beyond just a visible minority. I also want to be an example to other young Filipinos who dream of something bigger but aren’t quite sure what that is. However, there aren’t yet enough leaders who look like me – so white mentors, please apply.

“Self-Driving Labs for Materials Discovery” – Chemical Institute of Canada Virtual Talk

On Wednesday July 22nd, Phil gave a virtual talk to the Chemical Institute of Canada on “Self-Driving Labs for Materials Discovery”.

Far from being the nemesis portrayed in science fiction scenarios, artificial intelligence should be the most efficient and productive lab technician any researcher could ever want. As director of the National Research Council’s Materials and Clean Fuels Program, Phil De Luna has high expectations for the role that AI can play in accelerating the pace of innovation in this strategic area.

You can watch the recording of the talk here and below.

Keynote at Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference (CUTC)

On Saturday July 18th, Phil gave a Keynote speech at the 20th annual Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference (CUTC).

For two decades, CUTC has brought together students from across the country – creators, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, budding scientists and young visionaries – to connect on technology development.

Phil virtually joined other technology development leaders and entrepreneurs from Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Shopify, and more.

Phil’s talk “Making the most of your twenties” was about describing Phil’s experiences and sharing some hard learned lessons about what it takes to make your twenties meaningful.

2020/2021 Mission Innovation Champion – Canada

Phil was just named the 2020/2021 Mission Champion for Canada!

Today he joined newly announced MI Champions from 21 other countries that represent 80% of the world’s clean energy R&D investment.

Launched in 2015, Mission Innovation is a global initiative to accelerate public and private clean energy innovation to address climate change.

The first cohort of Mission Innovation Champions was recognized in 2019 during the Mission Innovation Ministerial Meeting in Vancouver, Canada. At the Ministerial Meeting those 19 individuals were invited to meet with leaders, to celebrate their achievements as clean energy innovators. Today, the second year of the Mission Innovation Champions program recognizes and supports exceptional researchers and innovators who are developing novel ways of making energy cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable, and using it more efficiently. The Mission Innovation Champions programme calls worldwide attention to the most promising ideas from across the globe.