NYC is setting heat records. And Canadian cleantech company Regen is helping them avoid brownouts with its swarm-based automated peak reduction technology. Fitting, as this week the Canadian Consulate launched their much-anticipated Cleantech Accelerator, spear-headed by highly capable Regine Clement.
Consul General John Prato got things going by hosting a lunch-time discussion at the Canadian official residence. Always hard to find new ways of going at the same territory but this discussion was hard-nosed, practical and high-level. Participants included ex-Mayor David Miller (still Mayor in my heart …), Canadian Cleantech pioneer Chrysalix, BDC, EDC, Chief of Innovation and Technology at NYC Transit, Chief Science and Technology Officer of DuPont, federal visionary Celine Bak, and others. Clearly this accelerator is going to do more than offer a cheap desk! Two clear points emerged:
Further to the recent MaRS initiative to “get past the demo” by engaging utilities, regulators and large corporates: the same vision is front and center in NYC. Best quote of the day came from BDC: “She who has project finance, wins”. True. We need to tie slightly higher risk-profile project finance to cleantech venture so our companies get some real work done. EDC and BDC are working on this, time will tell if they can step up to the plate to help up-and-coming Canadian stars (Hydrostor, Morgan, Temporal …) get past the demo.
Building a real value proposition for the utilities: also key. Solving a problem is very different from demonstrating something works – if you can place a value on that solution in the market there’s no reason regulators can’t justify those projects to the rate base. MaRS Clean Energy Institute will help drive that conversation in Ontario, and we’re looking forward to extending it to NY.
Afternoon pitch session had a surprise star: Stephanie McLarty of REfficient – a B2B re-use marketplace). Clear, concise, with revenues and growth. Look for more from REfficient.
Dinner had lots of American VCs and Canadian companies talking well past the end of food – a good sign. David Miller pitched fast-balls for Canada, and I and Andrée-Lise Méthot of Cycle Capital positioned a sense of urgency to get past small-time investments and start moving the needle.
If this sort of gathering is what NYC Cleantech Accelerator has in store, my advice to Canadian companies looking for US parters: get in touch, it’s the real deal. MaRS has a great new partner to get our Canadian stars to market.