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The MaRS Cleantech Fund

The MaRS Cleantech Fund

The MaRS Cleantech Fund invests in companies exploring breakthrough technologies. This Canadian venture fund focuses on cleantech investing and has developed a unique, early-stage investment model through its partnership with the MaRS Discovery District (opens external website in new window), one of the largest innovation centres in the world. Through MaRS, the Fund provides strategic advisory services and introduces investees to global corporate partners.

So far, the Fund has invested in technologies such as:

  • next-generation biofuels
  • grid-scale energy storage
  • home energy automation
  • waste recycling
  • distribution grid sensors
  • next-generation lighting substrates

Innovation and Philosophy

The global demand for clean and sustainable technologies, fueled by rising energy prices, concern for carbon emissions and resource scarcity, will continue to grow. The Fund targets solutions to these issues by providing early-stage capital for emerging companies.

Few investment funds can capitalize on these early-stage opportunities because the resource commitment per investment is high, and it’s difficult to find enough potential investees to select the best opportunity. The MaRS Cleantech Fund counters this by leveraging its relationship with MaRS, gaining access to a strong network of innovators developing clean and sustainable technologies.

Impact

In addition to the expected financial returns, RBC’s investment will:

  • enable the Fund to promote cleantech innovation;
  • foster long-term growth and demand for sustainable technologies;
  • continue to build the cleantech ecosystem in Ontario.
 

What the MaRS Cleantech Fund invests in

Woodland Biofuels

One of the companies in the MaRS Cleantech Fund is Woodland Biofuels. The MaRS Cleantech Fund will invest in approximately 15-20 organizations by 2017. The Fund invested in Woodland Biofuels (opens external website in new window) in November 2012 with a $2 million equity investment.

Woodland Biofuels is a Canadian company that produces next-generation ethanol from “cellulosic material” such as wood chips and agricultural waste. The three-step proprietary process converts this non-food biomass into ethanol, a high-octane gasoline substitute. The pilot plant in Sarnia, Ontario is operational and Woodland anticipates that the cost of ethanol production will be lower, and greener, than the gasoline it replaces.

In addition to expected financial returns, the innovative processes Woodland Biofuels has patented are expected to revolutionize the face of global low-carbon transportation fuels.

Sparq

www.sparqsys.com (opens external website in new window)

One of the largest expenses facing residential solar power producers is the conversion of solar energy into a usable form for traditional energy grids. As one of the fastest growing segments of the global solar market, residential solar power producers have to invest in expensive micro-inverters that traditionally only last 8-10 years. To address this issue, Sparq created a micro inverter uniquely designed to last more than 25 years. The micro inverter can be produced at a fraction of the cost of traditional micro inverters and installed in less than half the time, dramatically improving the financial return for residential producers.

 
 

Key Details

Investee: MaRS Cleantech Fund LP www.marsvf.com (opens external website in new window)

Location: Southern Ontario

Industry: Early-stage Cleantech

Vision: To profitably support Ontario cleantech companies that help meet growing global demand for clean technology

RBC Investment Details: $500,000 Equity

Date of initial RBC investment: June 30, 2013