Sustainable Development Technology Canada Funding Programs for Cleantech Companies

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Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) provides funding to Canadian cleantech projects and coaches the companies that lead them as they move their innovative technologies to market. 

As an independent federal foundation and flagship program, SDTC seeks out Canadian companies and helps them develop and deploy competitive cleantech solutions. From seed to scale-up funding, the organization provides financial support for disruptive companies with the potential to transform the global landscape when it comes to the world’s most critical environmental challenges. SDTC has already invested over $1.15 billion in 400 Canadian companies since launching in 2001.

SDTC’s Funding Options

SDTC offers small and medium-sized companies access to financing through their Seed and Scale-Up Funds. These funds invest in businesses that are commercializing solutions to help Canada’s industries transition to a low carbon future. 

The Seed Fund is aimed at early-stage cleantech companies looking for pilot project grants and runs in partnership with select Canadian accelerators, like Alacrity Canada. The Scale-Up Fund focuses on cleantech innovations that are beyond the pilot project stage. Companies applying for this fund should already have a product or service in the market and should be looking to develop their business further, expanding into both national and international markets.

SDTC funds accept applications from Canadian companies that can demonstrate that their solution provides significant, quantifiable environmental and economic benefits. 

Other eligibility criteria includes:

  • Novel technology that has not yet been demonstrated or commercialized elsewhere, with an Intellectual Property strategy that enables future growth
  • A defined project that validates the technology and provides a strong end-user value proposition to enable commercialization and sales
  • A developed business plan and market roll-out that identifies the company’s path to profitability
  • The potential to attract a consortia partner to validate the market need

These funds provide an average of 33% (or up to 40%) of eligible project costs. The remaining costs must be provided by the company through private investment or in-kind contributions from other organizations. Other government funding can also be used to make up part of the contribution, but should not make up more than 75% of eligible costs for the project (and at least 50% of these costs must be incurred in Canada).

Company Evaluation

SDTC evaluates companies based on the problem being solved, the innovation strength of the technology, the management capability of the company, the Technology Readiness Level (which should be between 3 and 8), the business plan and path to market, and the company’s financial strength.

The in-house team at SDTC has a very strong investment background and also utilizes external expertise, where needed, to evaluate companies and projects. Consortium partners that can help validate the market need as often engaged in assessing projects as well. 

Other factors like patents and intellectual property, as well as national and international competitors, also play a role in the decision making. Applicants should have some knowledge of the market, possible competitors or substitutes, and barriers to entry in order to provide a complete picture of their project’s potential.

Applying for SDTC funding

There are three main phases in applying for the seed and scale-up funds. Phase one is the application process, phase two consists of due diligence, and phase three is approving the funding.

Applications for SDTC funding are accepted on a rolling basis and can be completed through their online application portal. If the project meets SDTC’s eligibility criteria after the initial review, phase two will begin with the submission of a more detailed proposal and additional due diligence assessments, primarily conducted virtually during the COVID19 pandemic. 

The due diligence process can take three to four months to complete so applicants are encouraged to provide as much information about their company as possible to help SDTC understand the technology, competitive advantage, market size and value proposition, budget, fundraising stage, and the quantifiable environmental benefits provided.

Once the SDTC Project Review Committee finds a submission they are interested in pursuing, the recommended project is presented to the SDTC Board of Directors for funding approval. As soon as formal approval is received, a Contribution Agreement will be drawn up to formalize the funding.

Questions regarding the application process for SDTC can be directed to

How Accelerators Can Help Cleantech Companies Access SDTC Funding

Raising capital is a critical step of expanding a business, especially in the often challenging clean technology sector where early-stage projects can be perceived as risky or costly. It is important for entrepreneurs to, first and foremost, understand what stage of funding their innovation is at in order to seek out investments that are a good fit for their further development. SDTC aims to be accessible to small and medium-sized cleantech companies and is flexible in their assessment, as long as the project is beyond the proof of concept stage and meets the remaining eligibility criteria for funding.

Leveraging support from partnering accelerators like Alacrity Canada, with a developed global network of business mentors and market experts, can help ensure that the time and resources required to complete funding applications and due diligence are worthwhile. This is why SDTC also partners with leading incubators to find potential opportunities, assessing projects in collaboration with organizations like ours to keep supporting the growth of the Canadian cleantech ecosystem.

Read more about SDTC’s Seed and Scale-Up investments totaling $24.8 million. Recipient companies include three of Alacrity Canada’s cleantech portfolio companies, Open Ocean Robotics, Pani Energy, and Swirltex!

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