Ontario to invest $650m in green-tech

The Canadian province has established a $650m fund to help its residents secure and maintain high-paying jobs in the clean- and green-tech sectors.

The Ontario government has created a $650 million Next Generation Jobs Fund, which it will invest in companies developing environmentally conscious cars, fuels, technologies and products.

“With the world looking for innovative ways to conserve energy and fight global warming, some place is going to secure thousands of jobs by researching and developing new solutions, and we want that place to be Ontario,” Ontario’s premier, Dalton McGuinty, said in a statement.

The government said the fund will be modelled after a $500 million automotive-focused fund it launched four years ago, which has since helped leverage more than $7 billion in fresh auto industry investments across Ontario.

Some place is going to secure thousands of jobs by researching and developing new solutions, and we want that place to be Ontario.

Dalton McGuinty

“The approach is tried and true: We know we can attract investment and create and keep good full-time jobs by working with companies that are looking for the most aggressive and innovative places in North America,” McGuinty said.

To receive investment from the fund, qualities the companies must demonstrate include that they will secure good jobs for Ontarians and help establish the province as a global leader in cleantech research and development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create synergies among researchers, entrepreneurs and the business community.

“We see the government's challenge of developing even more leading-edge, efficient and low emission vehicles as a great opportunity for our industry,” said Arturo Elias, president of GM Canada, said in a statement. “This is the kind of positive partnership that can accelerate green vehicle technologies while also helping to ensure we remain at the forefront of competitive jurisdictions to invest, employ and grow for the future.”

Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, which represents more than 1,500 private equity firms in the country, in October called on the federal government to support programmes and initiatives to strengthen the venture capital sector and spur much-needed investment in emerging technology-based companies. Venture capital investment in early stage Canadian companies dropped 42 percent between 2002 and 2007, with firms in the life sciences, high-tech, biotech and cleantech sectors among the hardest hit. The trend continued in 2008, the CVCA said.

Ontario's government has so far been most active in trying to help the situation. Last year, it launched the $205 million Ontario Venture Capital Fund, managed by Canadian fund of funds manager TD Capital Private Equity Investors, to help counter the lack of early stage investment in its region. The government contributed $90 million to the fund, which will invest more than 75 percent of its capital in VC and growth funds. Its other investors include Canadian financial services company Manulife Financial, Business Development Bank of Canada and OMERS Capital Partners.