I became a MaRSian in the spring after joining the cleantech practice and have realized over the past few months that MaRS has created a much bigger cleantech presence than the word practice might suggest.
The starting point – Advisory services
The cleantech-focused advisory services group at MaRS was the starting point for the cleantech practice, combining the industry and business experience of 27 advisors to guide clients in developing their technologies into successful businesses.
Our advisors’ skills include subject matter expertise as well as general business knowledge that amount to over 500 years of experience in total. Through advisory services, clients have access to market intelligence, funding opportunities, legal services and a variety of other services.
Our advisors build off the expansive network of government, academic and corporate relationships that the cleantech practice has created as well as introducing clients to their own networks.
MaRS has two floors of incubator space—consisting of wet and dry labs, meeting rooms and desk space—that is available to our clients, providing them with physical spaces to work in. Being located close to advisory services keeps clients actively engaged and facilitates collaboration with our team of advisors. It also serves as a constant source of creative ideas and innovations. Currently, seven of our 37 most successful clients are working out of the incubator space at MaRS.
The MaRS Cleantech Fund originated out of a gap in early-stage financing available to our clients. The $30 million privately backed fund focuses on early-stage companies in the cleantech practice’s portfolio. The fund is designed to help clients develop and demonstrate their technologies. Tom Rand, a cleantech advisor and co-manager of the MaRS Cleantech Fund, wrote: “$1 million or so is needed to really get the value proposition lined up, build a top-notch team, develop a strong patent portfolio and nail that first customer or strategic partner.”
The fund’s strategic relationship with MaRS is key to its success. For its part, MaRS provides a pipeline of business opportunities with continued advisory service support even after the companies receive funding. The fund, in exchange, provides necessary capital to some of MaRS’ most promising companies, enabling them to meet key milestones and further develop their business.
The Clean Energy Institute is the newest initiative that the cleantech practice has taken on. The institute will bring together government, cleantech leaders, regulators, utilities, the academic community and the private sector to grow Ontario’s role in the $5 trillion global energy industry. The institute capitalizes on the strengths of domestic innovations surrounding smart grid technology, energy storage, efficiency, generation and grid automation, as well as other clean energy technologies that exist in Canada. The goal of the institute is to create domestic and international business opportunities for cleantech companies in the energy industry.
Smart Meter Data Access Pilot
The MaRS Data Catalyst team is currently focusing on the development of a Smart Meter Data Access Pilot. Based on the Green Button program in the United States, the pilot is working with the Ontario government and utilities to develop a method to provide energy data to consumers in a user-friendly way. Several MaRS clients are working in this space, and the relationship between the cleantech practice and this project is vital to developing a program that benefits consumers and Ontario’s entrepreneurs. More information on the MaRS Data Catalyst Smart Meter Data Access Pilot will be posted on the MaRS blog in the coming weeks.
The MaRS cleantech practice – one of a kind in Canada
The combination of resources, expertise and networks available through the MaRS cleantech practice are unique to Canada and will continue to develop new ways of helping entrepreneurs in this sector.
Interested in becoming a MaRS client? Get started by completing our Discovery Document.