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16 ways to finance your cleantech business

Find out where cleantech companies can capital for growth

3-minute read

Most cleantech entrepreneurs have ambitious goals: Solve major environmental challenges with new, often unproven technologies—all while making money for themselves and their shareholders.

But building a cleantech company can quickly get expensive, and capital markets have a limited appetite for writing big cheques and staying committed for the long haul.

Cleantechs tend to be hardware intensive, especially in capital-intensive cleantech sectors such as energy storage, advanced materials, waste-to-energy and bioproducts, where tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in investments may be required to build a commercial facility.

“While the high capital requirements and market complexity have scared off many cleantech investors, Canada has still emerged as a cleantech powerhouse and launched some of the most promising, globally competitive cleantech companies.” says Zoltan Tompa, Director, Innovation and Adoption in BDC’s Cleantech practice.

The 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index ranked Canada 4th out of 40 countries, ahead of the U.S. and Israel. Canadian companies also accounted for 13 of the top 100 companies in the prestigious Global Cleantech 100 list in 2018.

“Canada is fortunate to have several programs that support cleantech companies at all stages of their growth, but the landscape of support can be confusing to navigate for an entrepreneur who needs to remain focused on building and growing their business.” says Tompa.

Here’s an overview of 1 typical sources of financing for cleantech companies, by development stage.


The start-up phase is when you distill your vision into a compelling business plan that will orient your actions and help you pitch to potential investors or lenders. Many cleantech businesses start creating a working prototype of their technology at this stage.


Cleantech companies in the development stage have shown that their technology works, but have not yet proven their commercial viability.


Businesses at the expansion stage have achieved profitability. Some companies will have entered a period of intentional unprofitability to support a development program or acquire another company.