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Regional Powerhouses for Cleantech

Vancouver and Toronto stand out as central hubs for cleantech investing, though venture-backed startups are clustered in metropolitan areas nationwide.

Vancouver, which is the home base of hydrogen fuel cell developer Ballard Power Systems, has attracted many startups specializing in alternative battery technologies. Vancouver, the Canada’s largest metro area on the West Coast, is also home to many cleantech venture capitalists too, including Chrysalix and Pangaea Ventures.

VC-funded companies in the region include fuel cell developer Angstrom Power; Cellex Power Products, which specializes in fuel cell products for industrial vehicles; and an, a developer of fuel cells for the portable computing market. But the city and environs is also home to a much wider variety of cleantech startups.

Meanwhile, the Toronto area hosts a high concentration of water companies, including venture-backed EnviroTower, a developer of treatment technology; and Zenon Environmental, a maker of membranes for water purification that was acquired by General Electric last year.

Toronto-based investment funds focusing on the water industry include XPV Capital, a venture capital investor, and Criterion Water Infrastructure Fund, a division of VenGrowth Asset Management, a $1.1 billion asset manager. In September, VenGrowth launched the Criterion Global Clean Energy Fund to invest in companies in the renewable energy industry.

The oil-rich province of Alberta has spawned a few startups developing technologies to minimize environmental impact of carbon fuels or to replace them outright. Venture funding recipients include Calgary-based Flexpipe Systems, a developer of corrosion-resistant fuel pipelines; Edmonton-based Iosil Energy, a solar technology company; and Permolex, a grain processor that produces fuel-grade ethanol.

Montreal startups, however, are accounting for a growing portion of cleantech deal flow, says David Berkowitz, general partner of Vancouver-based Ventures West. The firm invested two years ago in Montreal-based Carbopur Technologies, which designs and manufactures active carbon materials used in filtration and energy storage. Enerkem Technologies, a developer of biomass fuel technology, raised $8.4 million in January, attracting funding from New York-based Braemar Energy Ventures and Rho Ventures. —Joanna Glasner