Boosting Canada’s clean-tech firms in the U.S.



C4, or the Canadian Clean-tech Colorado Connection Program, was developed by the Trade Commissioner Service in Denver. The Rocky Mountain region is an innovation hub and clean-tech leader and not only features multiple clean-tech multinational R&D facilities but also the U.S. Government's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

C4 is designed to help innovative and emerging clean-tech companies to reduce the risks of bringing their technologies to market and to connect with strategic partners and investors. Companies must apply by August 26, 2011, and must meet the following criteria:

  • Focus on clean, renewable and energy-efficient technologies;
  • Be headquartered in Canada;
  • Have high growth potential;
  • Possess disruptive technology, usually characterized by IP;
  • Have a management team that can execute and persevere;
  • Possess a completed business plan;
  • Communicate how your investors will profit

Firms must also be in one of the following stages of growth:

Pre-revenue - Companies must have a completed business plan, have tested the product and be within 3 to 12 months from a product launch.

Early revenue - Annual revenues are between $250,000 and $5 million with traction in the marketplace but face growth barriers and need assistance to get to the next level.

Successful applicants-some 30 firms to be admitted to phase 1-can access C4's five distinct phases over a six-month period:

Phase 1: Advanced Coaching and Mentorship - The first phase includes two 90-minute webinars: one with a communications expert who will focus on clean-tech company pitches and another webinar with an intellectual property attorney who will address how to protect clean-tech goods and services in the U.S.

Phase 2: Modern Energy Investor Forum - Companies can then compete for the opportunity to take part in the Modern Energy Investor Forum, a key North American investor meeting for clean energy taking place in Denver this September. At this event, Canadian firms will access an elite list of institutional, private and buy-side investors and analysts. The forum is a by-invitation-only event. Companies will also have the opportunity to make a 10-minute presentation to showcase their product or service.

Phase 3: NREL Industry Growth Forum - Firms will then be invited to compete for the opportunity to take part in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Industry Growth Forum, a key event for emerging clean energy and energy efficiency technology start-ups.

Phase 4: Canadian Launch Pad in the U.S. Rockies - This two-day phase, to be held in January 2012, will be designed to give companies access to corporate investors and potential strategic partners. Top firms from this phase will move on to receive specialized assistance for accelerated growth in the U.S. market.

Phase 5: NREL Technical and Scientific Assistance - Up to four Canadian firms will then move on to the NREL Technical & Scientific Assistance phase. Assistance includes short-term access to technical expertise and facilities such as analytical testing of materials, insight on existing or emerging technologies and assistance in addressing technological performance and market analysis.

This is conducted in collaboration with NREL scientists. Further, experts will also help companies identify and protect their clean technologies by optimizing their patents, trademarks and trade secrets. In addition, firms will receive assistance in developing a branding framework for commercializing core company products and services in the U.S.

Phase 6: Acceleration in the U.S. within NREL - Companies can further stimulate their development in the U.S. market by accessing the Clean Launch Canadian Accelerator in Denver. A team of advisors will work with firms to advance their progress in the U.S. marketplace. This is a unique opportunity to work in close collaboration with NREL and the Center for Renewable Energy and Economic Development based in Colorado.

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