BDC broadens support for entrepreneurs

The development bank is deploying $700 million to increase financing for the most promising Canadian clean-tech firms

Mario Toneguzzi: BDC broadens support for entrepreneursA record 56,000 entrepreneurs receive support from the Business Development Bank of Canada, a 14 per cent increase from last year, according to the BDC’s 2017-2018 annual report released on Thursday.

“The ambition, agility and creativity of entrepreneurs inspires us to go further, faster – because when entrepreneurs succeed, Canada succeeds. We not only boosted our client numbers, but also broadened the diversity of those we accompany,” said Michael Denham, president and CEO of BDC, in a statement.

“Our primary goal is to fast-track the growth of entrepreneurs. This means we constantly have to accelerate our own pace, in-person and online.”

During the year, BDC announced it would deploy $700 million in capital to increase financing for the most promising Canadian clean-tech firms. In an effort to build a commercially sustainable clean-tech industry, BDC is taking on more risk to help high-potential firms expand by providing them with the capital they need to hire new staff, develop products, support sales, and scale up and compete globally, it said.

Michael Denham: BDC broadens support for entrepreneurs
BDC’s Michael Denham

Calgary-based Enlighten Innovations, formerly Field Upgrading, is an example of clean-tech entrepreneurial success driving the new economy, said the BDC.

“We take heavy oil, oil sands bitumen for example, and we take all the dirty stuff out of it – the acids, the metals and the sulphur. We clean it up. It’s still a heavy oil but it’s got all the nasty stuff removed from it. That’s what our technology does,” said Neil Camarta, founder and director of the company. “Our market is the marine industry.”

In April 2018, BDC announced that Enlighten Innovations was one of its first four investments with high-potential clean-tech companies from its $700-million, five-year commitment to grow the country’s clean-tech industry.

Neil Camarta: BDC broadens support for entrepreneurs
Enlighten Innovations’s Neil Camarta

“BDC have been very helpful to us. BDC have given us a loan of $10 million which is very helpful. When you’re trying to develop these new technologies and even though we’ve got a technology that I think is very disruptive and compelling and we’ve got a very clear market pull, when you haven’t got cash flow, and we haven’t yet, it’s very difficult to borrow money and to get financing. So BDC have been very, very helpful there to give us this loan,” said Camarta.

BDC’s financing, in conjunction with other funding and capital, will help Enlighten Innovations build two commercial plants, based on its successful pilot plant in Fort Saskatchewan. The first 2,500-barrels-per-day plant is shovel ready and is called the Clean Seas Demonstration Plant, with construction expected to kick off in the new year. The 10,000-barrels-per-day plant will follow within two years. Both new plants will be in the Fort Saskatchewan area.

Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.

BDC broadens support for entrepreneursThe views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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