Consulate Program Boosts Canadian Innovation And U.S. Interests

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 17:04

The Editor interviews Tim Angus, President and CEO of REGEN Energy Inc. and a recent graduate of the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) initiative. Managed by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, CTA operates from four Consulates across the U.S. Its goal is to provide Canadian start-ups engaged in technology-related industries with unique resources and contacts in order to help those companies grow on a global scale. Those industries include: information and communication technology (ICT), digital and social media, health, clean technologies and life sciences.

Editor: Welcome, Tim. Please tell us about REGEN Energy.

Angus: REGEN Energy was established in 2005. We have been selling a developed and patented market offering since 2008, and North America is a strong market for us. A leading-edge technology company, REGEN offers solutions that enable buildings to use energy efficiently. There is simply not enough global electricity to meet peak requirements – for instance during the very hot days when there is the potential for rolling brownouts and blackouts ­– and buildings are the largest energy consumers in North America. Our products target these consumers with the goal of relieving an already overstressed global power grid.

Editor: What prompted REGEN’s participation in the CTA initiative?

Angus: Every experience I’ve had in working with Canadian Consulates around the world has been very beneficial. They are refined, professional organizations that put on great programs, so I welcomed the call from Regine Clement – the Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General in New York – inviting us to participate in the CTA initiative.

REGEN is headquartered in Toronto and has a U.S. location in Newport Beach, California. This year, one of our largest growth initiatives is to push into the Northeast market, particularly in New York. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to participate in the New York CTA program, through which Regine and her colleague Dan Matross in San Francisco provided an unprecedented level of access to large corporations and support resources, particularly law firms.

Editor: Please expand on the benefits of CTA participation.

Angus: CTA offers access to an elite group of significant global companies – an audience we might otherwise spend years trying to reach on our own – in order to learn about their process goals and strategies. We enjoyed access to investment bankers and venture capitalists, who candidly discussed their activities and what they’re looking for. Further, the Consulate did a great job of bringing in excellent law firms to add depth to discussions on key issues, such as seed financing (which REGEN is past the need for), fundraising, the timing of exit strategies, M&A and global IP strategy.

Finally, clean technology companies at REGEN’s stage of development are always fundraising, even when we don’t need money, and CTA provided a very good venue on both coasts – in New York and San Francisco – to pitch our company to a world-class set of investors. It was very effective for us and generated a tremendous amount of interest.

Editor: Are CTA participants selected by the Consulate?

Angus: Consulates that manage CTAs reach out extensively to pipeline partners, such as MaRS Discovery District, and to Canadian companies directly in order to get the best companies to apply for the program. Participants are then selected through a structured process that includes the input of private- and public-sector partners.  

And really, all players benefit from participation. On a per capita basis, Canada is a true center of excellence for innovation; however, our focus, as Canadian companies, is on the U.S. marketplace and developing partnerships in the U.S. The CTA program also benefits U.S. corporations and law firms that are looking for strategic partnerships with up-and-coming Canadian companies and technologies, and it saves a lot of time for all concerned.

Just as a backdrop, the global venture capital industry took a beating during the Great Recession. The VC marketplace in the U.S. has recovered nicely since 2008, but not so in Canada, which is why Canadian companies truly depend on the CTA program. And the Consulate supports other programs; for instance, the MaRS Innovation program at the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Commercialization of Research is funded by the Ontario government and works closely with the Consulate.

Editor: What are some specific outcomes for REGEN in participating in the CTA initiative?

Angus: In addition to all of the networking and coaching benefits already discussed, the process culminated in investor pitch sessions. The program covered all costs to enable us to make pitches at the New York Venture Summit, which is a well-recognized event. And for the Clean Tech sector, REGEN actually won the award for best pitch. Obviously, this is a great outcome.

REGEN is a growing company. We created 20 U.S. jobs this year and opened a significant office in California, and we’re expanding to the East Coast. We need introductions to great law firms, investment firms and corporations, and the CTA program enabled us to make the excellent contacts that could become strategic opportunities for partnerships and to grow our customer base.

For more information on the CTA program, please visit www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/document.jsp?did=141338.