ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge
launched late last month, offering people with innovative green business ideas access to as much as $50,000 in startup funding. The challenge, run by the Toronto Atmospheric Fund
, the Centre for Social Innovation
and the Toronto Community Foundation
, draws on a fund of $500,000 that can be awarded through grants and loans to the most promising business ideas.
Jason Wagar, manager of donor services and marketing for Toronto Community Foundation, calls it a method of "crowdsourcing green innovation." Within two weeks of the phase one launch, 26 business ideas were submitted.
"What`s interesting is that some of the ideas are fully developed business plans, and others are just the beginning of an idea, but a community of more than 200 people are sharing thoughts and suggestions," says Wagar. "So these ideas can be shaped by the city--by experts, potential clients, potential suppliers.... At the end of the process the community has done some of the due diligence for the investors."
The first phase, gathering ideas online, will last nine weeks. Then 10 finalists will present their proposals to expert advisors. Finally, the finalists will make their pitch to investors, who will decide on awards, grants, loans and investments.
"Ultimately," Wagar says, "we're hoping to see a cleaner environment."
Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Jason Wagar, Manager of Donor Services and Marketing, Toronto Community Foundation