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Ontario Government Is the Latest Cleantech VC

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Looking for cash for your cleantech startup? Maybe you should move up north. Ontario said this week it was creating a new CDN $250 million fund ($202.9 million) for technology companies, with the money to be doled out to local startups in cleantech, life sciences, digital media and information communication technology.

The Canadian province has yet to reveal any details on how the cash will be divvied up among the different technologies, but cleantech could play a prominent role — the government announced plans for the fund at the Toronto headquarters of ecobee, a maker of smart thermostats. “We’re committed to supporting clean tech and other emerging technology companies in Ontario,” said John Wilkinson, Ontario’s minister of research and innovation, in a statement.

Ecobee, backed by Tech Capital Partners, Investeco and JLA Ventures, sells its thermostats to homeowners in Canada and the U.S. The company hasn’t said if it plans to apply for cash under the new fund.

The Ontario government said the fund was created in response to the tightening credit markets, which it said are making it hard for emerging technology companies to raise venture capital. Kicking off in July, the new fund — called the Emerging Technologies Fund — will invest $202.9 million over five years in companies that have a “significant corporate footprint” in Ontario. That cash is expected to be paired up with at least the same amount of funding from venture capital funds and private sector investors.

More information on the fund is expected to be released before the end of June, but already the government has said the fund would receive a stake in the companies it supports.

Ontario made another move in cleantech earlier this month, saying it planned to beef up its feed-in tariff program for renewable energy as part of the province’s proposed Green Energy Act. The new tariffs will raise the rates for clean energy going into the grid, as well as open the door for community-based energy projects to participate in the program. And in January, the province said it would grant CDN $500,000 each in loans to eight high-tech firms in Ontario, including cleantech startups Regen Energy and Echologics Engineering.

2 Responses to “Ontario Government Is the Latest Cleantech VC”

  1. Could you guide me to an analysis of the pros and cons of the US or state governments creating, or (is it possible) joining cleantech venture capital initiatives?

    There are funds for R&D, but I haven’t gotten the impression that they are managed as venture capital is.