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Former Research In Motion Ltd. executive Jim Balsillie is taking over an arms-length federal agency aimed at spurring Canada’s clean technology sector.

Mr. Balsillie was announced Tuesday as the chair of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a not-for-profit foundation established with a federal grant in 2001 to support Canadian researchers and firms in the clean tech sector, tackling issues related to climate change, water quality and air quality.

“Clean technologies are making the extraction and use of our natural resources more efficient, our transportation better, our buildings more livable, and our communities healthier, more cost-effective places to live and work,” Mr. Balsillie...

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