As startups mature and grow they require capital from different sources. Early on, grant funding is essential. These non-repayable investments help get technologies from the lab into the hands of customers and investors. As startups continue to develop, angel, venture capital and institutional investments become more important. These types of funding are often used to refine products, apply for patents and build out teams. All of these activities and funding rounds lead to piloting the technology with real users.

Different types of technologies have unique challenges when it comes to pilots. For example, many cleantech ventures face regulatory hurdles and high-capital costs of equipment and land. They also face technical risks associated with scaling their technologies. Finding funding for demonstration projects can be extremely difficult.

Thankfully, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) exists, providing funding to help companies complete projects, de-risk technologies and bring innovative ideas one step closer to the market. SDTC invests in projects that have strong consortiums, comprised of both academic and industry members, and contributes cash and in-kind support to complete the pre-commercial demonstration of cleantech solutions.

SDTC has recently announced over $70 million in funding for cleantech companies across Canada, including investments into seven Ontario ventures, five of which are engaged with MaRS.

  • RANOVUS’ disruptive innovation is setting a new industry benchmark for optical interconnect solutions. SDTC’s $4.25 million investment will help the company commercialize its technology for data centres, dramatically reducing energy consumption.
  • GaN Systems received $2.18 million from SDTC to realize the benefits of gallium nitride in electric vehicle chargers.
  • OTI Lumionics has been granted $5.7 million to fund a pilot production line for its organic light emitting diodes, which are revolutionizing flat panel displays and lighting.
  • Polar Sapphire uses an innovative and environmentally friendly process to purify and manufacture alumina, which is used in the production of synthetic sapphire. SDTC’s $2.65 million investment will help develop the company’s energy-efficient process and prevent waste.
  • Kelvin Storage was awarded $2.8 million to further develop its thermal matrix energy storage system.

These projects, in addition to others across Canada, will join the SDTC portfolio of about 300 projects, together leveraging over $1.8 billion in project financing. If past investments are any indicator, we’re likely to see great things from these companies in the future.

Photo credit: It ain’t easy by freaktography under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Read more

Jennifer Minelli

Jennifer manages the accelerating ventures program at MaRS, supporting high-growth ventures in the cleantech, health and information & communications technology (ICT) sectors.See more…