Origen Air: How this Victoria Cleantech Company is Clearing the Air

3 min read
April 22, 2024

Indoor air pollution poses a challenge on multiple fronts. On the health side, pollutants can cause or worsen respiratory problems and allergies. On the environmental end, building greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions -- driven by increased air circulation and the necessary heating and cooling -- currently account for 39% of global GHG emissions. To compound the issue, removing tiny airborne particles and toxins can be challenging and environments with inadequate airflow can trap pollutants indoors.  

As the problem persists, a Victoria-based cleantech company is pushing back with their advanced air purification systems and a deeply personal commitment to improving indoor air quality. 

By utilizing cutting-edge filtration and purification technologies, Origen Air's systems can significantly improve air quality by removing a wide range of pollutants and odours. Their secret sauce comes in the form of genetically enhanced super plants, which have a remarkable ability to efficiently absorb indoor air pollutants. Origen’s commitment to sustainability is evident in their use of energy-efficient designs and eco-friendly materials, ensuring that their products not only enhance indoor air quality, but also minimize their environmental impact. 

The B Corp certified startup has caught the attention of media, funders, and global leaders. CEO and Founder, Susan Rae Blanchet, spoke on a COP28 panel earlier this year featuring women who are creating innovative solutions to the climate crisis. This marquee speaking opportunity came just a few months after Blanchet was named Women in Business Thought Leader of the Year at the Stevie Awards -- outlasting more than 1,600 nominations en route to the prestigious award. 

Like many B.C. cleantech companies, Origen tapped into the local ecosystem to access a wide range of support. They received mentorship and guidance through the Venture Acceleration Program, working with local accelerators Foresight and VIATEC, secured $250K from economic development agency PacifiCan, received a BC Fast Pilot grant, and gained valuable IP knowledge and education through Innovate BC programming.  

We sat down with Susan Rae Blanchet to talk about her company’s upcoming product launch, the challenges of being a female founder, and her company’s ‘Origen’ story.


Tell us about Origen Air. What do you do and why do you do it? 

Susan: Origen Air is a Victoria-based cleantech company that offers innovative air purification solutions. We utilize genetically enhanced plants to reduce human-made toxins from the air, while supporting climate change initiatives. 

Origen Air was born from a deeply personal commitment to improving indoor air quality and well-being. I was driven by my father’s health struggles and Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring”, from which I reaffirmed that indoor air pollution is an invisible threat few are aware of. So, I embarked on a mission to address the negative effects of poor air quality.  

Origen Air’s vision is to restore and protect our most important resource, the air we breathe. 


Origen Air is a Certified B Corp – meeting high standards for social and environmental impact. How did you get there?  

Susan: Sustainability has always been one of the company's core values. The B Corp standard is much more than a logo. It represents our core values at Origen Air: our vision, our purpose, our commitment to doing better and giving back, and our commitment to all five pillars of impact: Workers, Governance, Customers, Environment, and Community. 

It took a village, a couple of years, and a collaboration with the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business MBA Capstone Team to achieve it. Origen Air underwent a series of analyses, reviews, feedback, and improvements on all processes related to employees, governance, customers, environment, and community to achieve the highest standard and become a B Corp. 


What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while growing your business and how did you overcome them? 

Susan: Some of the challenges that Origen Air faced were related to the development and scaling of the product. I founded the company right before the pandemic, and we ended up having in-house manufacturing for a couple of years. However, this wasn’t scalable, so we pivoted to the smaller version: the desktop air purifier. 

Another challenge was getting funding as a woman founder. Compared to male founders, women in entrepreneurship and startup funding receive less than 3% of the funding. We had to work even harder to get funding, and to date, I’ve raised $1.8 M in non-dilutive funding and $1.227M in equity investment. 


What’s next for Origen Air? Are there any updates on the horizon? 

Susan: Something extraordinary is on the horizon. We are close to launching the long-awaited desktop air purifier, called The Eliza, for individuals and businesses who want to breathe cleaner air in their homes or offices. 


Looking for support? Innovate BC offers mentorship, funding, and more. Explore our programs. 




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