Calgary CleanTech Forum

Over at Hotel Arts this morning, a panel of ten CleanTech investors got together to explain what they are looking for in CleanTech companies. Rod Charko, from Alberta Enterprise, introduced the day – they’ve started Alberta Enterprise kick start the venture capital business in Alberta.

Emerald Technology – First independent CleanTech VC in Europe. European and Canadian offices, global deal flow.  They have in-house CleanTech sector specialists with strong corporate relationshops. Emerald Technology has invested in 45 companies across three areas, energy, advanced materials and water. They are eager to invest in a company in Alberta (hence why Whitney is here…all the way from Switzerland).

Khosla Ventures – Offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. They are a $1.2 million fund in Menlo Park. They invest in traditional venture areas as well as clean technology such as solar, battery, high efficiency engines, lighting, greener materials like cement, glass and bio-refineries for energy and bioplastics. On the panel, they have the least investment in Canada and would like to change that.

DBL CleanTech Capital – As far as I can tell, DBL stands for “Double Bottom Line”

Which is kind of rad. They invest primarily in expansion stage, scalable, transoformative proprietary clean technology companies with a focus on reducing a significant amount of carbon loading on the environment.

Pangaea Ventures – Invests in early stage CleanTech companies with advanced materials innovation. They believe that breakthroughs in advanced materials are becoming increasingly important for companies to excel in the CleanTech market.

Yaletown Ventures – Established in 2003, Yaletown consider themselves a startup, so they think they have the highest degree of empathy for entrepreneurs. There are four partners with a number of special limited partners. They are a high-risk, high-reward investor and they are definitely always looking for the next big thing. I usually find Kirk the most interesting VC to listen to on a panel, because he is pretty straightforward.

Chrysalix Energy Ventures Capital – Founded specifically for Clean Tech, with a very long history of venture capital in Western Canada. The title of their presentation is “looking for Game Changers.” …but I imagine they aren’t referring to Shell’s Game Changers. Mike’s presentation was the most visually appealing.

iNovia Capital – On TechVibes, we usually talk about iNovia’s information technology investments, but they also invest in CleanTech. Josko, also a good speaker, quoted Mark Cuban “If there’s no one to buy, it’s a hobby.” 15 days in to 2010, they’ve already invested in one company and are looking to invest in more.

Cenovus Enviro – only a month and a half old, split off from Encana. Their environment opportunity fund – Rudy says, “If you can show your technology works, we’re interested.” They are excited to be a part of developing technologies that focus on energy efficiencies, reduction of air emissions, conservation and recycling of water and protection of groundwater, land and habitat.

Alberta Deal Generator – a group of Angel Investors throughout Alberta. ADG matches early stage companies with its network of Angel investors. They run two day boot camp process to help entrepreneurs with their pitch and hold quarterly forums for investors to listen to pitches. ADG also provides services and support programs, such as the entrepreneur in residence program at Calgary Technologies and TechEdmonton.

AVAC ltd. – an Alberta-based, private, not-for-profit company that invests in promising early-stage value-added Alberta businesses in the agri-busness, ICT, life sciences and other industrial technology sectors. They make non-dilutive investments in companies and take an active role in companies to help move them toward success. Initially set-up to fill the pre-commercial gap.

To summarize, VC firms interested in clean tech are not interested in investing in a “me-too” type business. They are looking for innovation and they are all looking for new deals. Also: Talk to Ken Gordon. He seems to be involved with every VC investing in Clean Tech.