This March, Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade Diversification, announced $17 million over five years to expand the successful Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) program.
As outlined in the Fall Economic Statement 2018, this funding is part of Canada’s commitment to help small and medium-sized enterprises expand and diversify their exports.
Parliamentary Secretary Alghabra made the announcement while speaking at an event in Toronto, Ontario, bringing together Canadian companies that have benefited from the CTA program, as well as investors and tech entrepreneurs.
Global Affairs has had positive success in previous years, in particular with its CTA cleantech program. Several cleantech companies have received funding or strategic partnerships as a direct result of participating, including Calgary’s FREDsense, which offers a technology that detects chemicals in industrial water, and was part of the program’s 2016 cohort.
Now in its 8th year, the CTA Cleantech program provides extensive support for Canadian cleantech entrepreneurs seeking to grow their business in the United States. For many growing Canadian water technology companies, the United States represents attractive opportunities to secure investment and gain global traction. Through the program, Canadian entrepreneurs get a boost in this competitive sector, growing their skills, and building their networks in the process.
The deadline for applications has come and gone, and, as usual, the response is overwhelmingly positive. The full cohort will be announced this May. Among the group, so far, such water cleantech companies as Mississauga, Ontario-based Greyter Water Systems Inc., Toronto-based, WatrHub Inc., and and Calgary, Alberta-based Livestock Water Recycling are candidates.
Recognizing the need to support emerging cleantech businesses, Global Affairs Canada has positioned trade commissioners in New York City and Silicon Valley to gather and execute on market intelligence. The two posts also work together to manage the annual Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) cleantech program.
The program culminates with in-market visits to the East Coast (New York and Boston) and the West Coast (San Francisco and Denver), providing in-person introductions to prominent U.S. cleantech VCs, angels, headquarters, and corporate strategics, alongside other potential investors, partners and customers. The program includes a total of ten days spent in the United States and is delivered at no cost to Canadian companies beyond their individual travel, hotel, and meal costs.
To learn more about this year’s CTA program, WaterTAP spoke about the program with Ian Philp and Evan Cohen, Trade Commissioners representing Canada in New York City and San Francisco.
The CTA program was created to support and showcase the significant output of clean innovation coming from Canada, says Philp. “Evan and I work one-on-one with Canadian companies daily. There has been plenty of interest in Canada’s expertise, and plenty of capital available, particularly in New York City and Silicon Valley.”
For participating tech companies, Cohen says the CTA program is a high-value, efficient use of time and resources. “Successful candidates come to the United States and build a network of investors, as well as the tools to navigate what can be uncharted territory for many companies,” he says. “Through the program, we aim to demystify the subtleties of American venture capital, underline the value of a strategic investor, and discuss the pros and cons of corporate versus private venture arms.”
Philp says the core value of the program is the in-market portion, when companies travel to New York City and Silicon Valley to meet investors face to face.
How companies were selected
The CTA is very flexible with its cohorts. The Trade Commissioners curate their selections to resonate with the needs of both New York City and San Francisco. Cohen confirms that there is a great demand for innovative water technology. “Almost every fund I work with is thinking about water as a pillar. There is significant interest and plenty of business opportunities.”
As for age and stage, Cohen says that ideal program candidates are seeking to raise seed or Series A funds presently, or within the next 12 months.
“We usually look for companies that are no longer in the lab and have at least one reference customer or signed P.O.,” Philp says. “We look for evidence that the company is building market traction toward $1 million in funding or annual revenue, but we can be flexible depending on the type of technology or service on offer.”
Leveraging Additional Opportunities
If you missed out on the CTA program this time around, you can get a head start on next year. Furthermore, there are other options and upcoming missions for which you may be eligible.
Philp and Cohen encourage interested parties to connect and learn more about other programs and services. “Even if your company was not a candidate for the CTA, or you missed the deadline, there are plenty of ways the Trade Commissioner Service can help your business,” Cohen says. “We will work with companies to find the best fit offering for their needs.”
About the CTA
Since the program was established, the CTA has resulted in $510 million in capital raised, $190 million in new revenue, 996 strategic partnerships, and 2,125 new jobs for 489 small, high-potential, high-growth firms in key technology sectors (information and communications technologies, life sciences, and clean-tech.
Through the Export Diversification Strategy, the government will invest $1.1 billion over six years to finance infrastructure to support trade, enhance trade services for Canadian exporters and provide Canadian businesses with new tools to grow and diversify their exports.
With the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), Canada has secured preferential access to 1.5 billion customers in more than 50 countries.