Thursday, November 04, 2010

$ 15 M for projects that reduce urban greenhouse gases: Toronto Atmospheric Fund

The Challenge launched today is offering a $10,000 cash prize and a pool of approximately $15 million in financing for business projects that reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions. The web 2.0 “crowdsourcing” and “ideation” platform allows an online community of investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, policy makers, environmental leaders and business buffs to rate and comment on business proposals and select the winners. Businesses from across Canada have until December 20th to submit their ideas.

ClimateSpark is tapping business ingenuity and competitiveness to spark some creative climate change solutions that can also help companies turn a profit,” says Julia Langer, executive director of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, which is behind the challenge. “If you believe that a thousand minds are better than one, ClimateSpark offers the opportunity to put an idea in front of a diverse community that will work with businesses to refine and develop -- and then judge -- their ideas.”

This opportunity to stimulate “green” entrepreneurship has attracted high-profile sponsors, including TD Bank, Toronto Live Green, Aird & Berlis LLP and Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Business. Firms with approximately $15 million to invest in this space, including Investeco and Best Funds, are also sponsoring the challenge. The winner and the eight runners-up will have the opportunity to pitch these savvy investors on their ideas.

Web challenges are being widely deployed in the United States and elsewhere to generate new ideas and products and are ideally suited to complex problems like climate change. The ClimateSpark web platform allows participants to earn “reputation” points based on their engagement in the challenge, which they can then use to support one of the business concepts and win prizes. “This is not a popularity contest,” explains Langer, “it is a sophisticated system for separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to identifying solutions with real promise, both in terms of emission reductions and profitability.”

The first round of the contest runs from Nov. 4th to Dec. 20, 2010. Nine finalists will be selected to go into the second round, which runs from Jan. 3- Jan 31, 2011. The winner will be announced at the ClimateSpark Summit in Toronto on Feb. 2, 2011.

The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), an arm’s length agency of the City of Toronto,, has been sparking and incubating innovative urban solutions to climate change for close to 20 years. TAF investments in initiatives such as deep lake water cooling, LED traffic signals, auto sharing, energy efficient condominiums, renewable power, and solar heating have helped Toronto save millions of dollars through improved energy efficiency and increased energy security.

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