Government funds to boost Canadian green firms

OTTAWA Wed May 20, 2009 5:34pm EDT

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A group of Canadian green energy and technology companies pitched for investment on Wednesday, saying they are poised to flourish from government stimulus spending and tougher environmental regulations.

Governments around the world are plowing billions of dollars into renewable energy and energy-efficient products and services, said Vicky Sharpe, chief executive of Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which manages C$1.05 billion ($920 million) in Canadian federal government funding.

"Why are they doing this? Because green creates jobs," she said via webcast at an investor forum organized by her nonprofit agency and the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"There is a market, it's a massive market, it's moving quickly and ... you can really play in what is going to be an amazingly good opportunity to make money."

The half-day event in Vancouver, British Columbia, featured a handful of private companies making pitches for funding along with established, publicly traded companies that laid out their growth plans.

"This is a time when you should get into the market, look and support these companies," said Sharpe. "I believe that you will do very well and make a lot of money, but also help the world be a better place."

An executive from MSR Innovations Inc told investors they could take a 25-percent stake in the solar energy roofing company in return for a C$750,000 investment.

"The market we're in, the green building market, is a fairly robust market, it seems to be doing well in these lean times and we're offering a generous equity stake for C$750,000," said Bill Richardson, vice-president of marketing and business development.

Other privately held companies presented technology ranging from advanced batteries for automobiles to sophisticated containers for fish farming.

BUSINESS BOOST

Several executives from publicly traded companies said they expected to get a business boost from tougher environmental legislation and stimulus spending.

Solar energy company Arise Technologies Corp is hoping it can profit from the Canadian province of Ontario's recently passed Green Energy Act, which hopes to encourage the installation of 100,000 residential solar panels on rooftops.

"We think that this is going to be a very, very significant opportunity," said Ian MacLellan, president of Arise's systems division.

"The Ontario government has stated publicly they want to create 50,000 jobs in Ontario. I think that that's doable. And if it all comes together, I told (Ontario Premier) Dalton McGuinty to put us down from a couple of thousand."

For some other firms, the outlook is murkier.

Aboriginal Cogeneration Corp is in the "valley of death", said Chief Executive Maurice Hladik, referring to the funding gap between lab work and product commercialization.

His company, owned by aboriginal groups, sells technology that turns biomass into fuel. It estimates global demand in the sector will exceed C$1 billion annually.

"We are looking at the other side of the valley of death and we think we can make it, we see green hills out there," Hladik said.

($1=$1.14 Canadian)

(Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Peter Galloway)