The Toronto innovation incubator MaRS
announced last week
that it was launching Canada's first private dedicated cleantech venture fund. The MaRS Cleantech Venture Fund LP opens with a goal of $30 million in capital to invest—about half that amount has been closed so far—from a group of private investors including Greg Kiessling of Bullfrog Power. It will be managed by Tom Rand and Murray McCaig of MaRS.
"Great companies will go where they can find the capital, and we want those companies to stay right here in Ontario," Rand writes on the MaRS blog
, a point he elaborates on in the fund's announcement. "We have great companies here at MaRS. They've got strong intellectual property, and many have a real chance at global leadership if they can get to market fast enough. Finding that first million or two has always been a challenge in Canada, and we intend to fill that gap."
Elaborating on the phone, Rand says that access to seed capital is more than just a perk for the sector. "Without healthy venture and seed funding, there is no cleantech sector," Rand says. "It's an absolutely fundamental part of the sector." He says that up until now, there hasn't been much appetite in the Toronto private sector for some of the risks in the cleantech sector, risks New York and Silicon Valley are fine with.
Moving quickly, the fund has already announced its first two investments: in GreenMantra
, a company whose technology promises to recycle plastics into usable waxes and greases
; and in Smart Energy Instruments
, whose technology may help build the smart electricity grid
MaRS points to estimates showing the global cleantech sector will be worth $3 trillion by the end of the decade. It aims to see Canada capture two per cent of that market—equivalent to a $60-billion industry nationally.
Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Tom Rand, Managing Partner, MaRS Cleantech Fund