Subsidies and grants for green entrepreneurs
ONE can be a lonely number, especially on Valentine’s Day, but not in Ontario where ONE, according to their website, is the “Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.” That’s their current name anyway: “In June 2009, the Ontario Government introduced the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) –Ontario’s revitalized, client-focused, province-wide innovation network. In May 2013, the ONE was re-branded to the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs.”
Sounds impressive; even more impressive are some of the claims they make about their network of 90 branches throughout the province and their funding sources such as MaRS and provincial agencies including the three regional Development Funds. ONE will be hosting the “Discovery” Conference April 27, 2015 and says this about their efforts to entice attendees and sponsors: “Discovery is a showcase of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research from sectors such as health, manufacturing, digital media and cleantech, including energy, environment and water.”
Now let’s look at some of their claims:
What we should ask about the government’s definition of “entrepreneurs”
Why would you call a network (90 offices) of government programs administered by bureaucrats, an network “entrepreneurs”?
Why would 20 colleges and several not-for-profit foundations dependent on government grants be considered an “entrepreneurial network”?
Why would ONE claim they have created or retained 192,000 jobs in a document released January 1, 2014 but show only two examples of those “jobs”? (The document included two examples with one of them named “Desire2Learn” which received a $4.25 million grant from the Ontario government. As recently disclosed one of those Desire2Learn jobs might represent ONE job for our former Premier, Dalton McGuinty now registered as their lobbyist in the Ontario Lobbyist Registry.)
Why is the Liberal Government showing investments in “clean tech” via the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation or OCGC of $74 million (as of March 31, 2012) which represented 18% of the total investments of OCGC, when MaRS and other Liberal government creations are handing out our tax dollars in the same market to the same parties?
The March 31, 2014 Financial Statements under “Revenues” for OCGC indicate they received $15 million directly from the province, $50 million from the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund or OETF 1. and $1 million from Northleaf Venture Capitalist Fund (NVCF) 2.. They claim they generated $13 million in “Realized gains on sale of investment funds” but the latter is not even mentioned in the auditor’s notes.
OCGF in their March 31, 2014 annual statement under “Assets” claim they invested $59 million in OETF and $44 million in OVCF 3.and $2.6 million in NVCF; their “Investing Activities” show them buying and selling OETF investments, selling investments in OVCF and obtaining a “Return of capital from OVCF” as well as a “Purchase of Investments in NVCF”.
So exactly what is happening between these various investment funds that the Liberals created? Is someone actually auditing the success or failure of these entities? Are the bureaucrats using our tax dollars to pick any “winners” or are they trading assets to make it look like they are creating value?
Perhaps this is another area that the Auditor General should tick off as an area for future review, as well as the power system in Ontario under review for 2015.
February 14, 2015
1. Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund (OETF)
OETF was launched in July 2009 with a commitment from the Province of Ontario to provide funding of $250 million. OETF, as a direct co-investment fund, makes investments into innovative high potential companies alongside other qualified investors with a proven track record of success. Investments are in three strategic sectors: (a) clean technology; (b) digital media and information and communication technologies; and (c) life sciences and advanced health technologies.
2. Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund (NVCF) is a joint initiative between major Canadian institutional investors and the Governments of Canada and Ontario to invest in Canada-based venture capital and growth equity funds and direct investments that support innovative, high growth companies.
3. Ontario Venture Capital Fund LP (OVCF)In June 2008, the OVCF was established with an investment commitment from the Province of Ontario of $90 million. OVCF is a $205 million joint initiative of the Government of Ontario and private institutional investors,formed to invest primarily in Ontario-based and Ontario-focused venture capital and growth equity funds that support innovative, high potential companies.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.