The Toronto Atmospheric Fund, a city loan- and grant-giving agency that funds local climate-change solutions, has turned to the Web and social media to beef up its deal flow. On Nov. 3 it will launch an online challenge called ClimateSpark that aims to find the best private-sector GHG reduction projects. It’s kind of like “So You Think You Can Reduce GHGs, Toronto!” or “Climate Change Idol”. A business starts by submitting a 2-page application — that is, the elevator pitch — and ends with an event where nine finalists make their pitch in front of an expert panel that will choose the winning idea. The winner gets a $10,000 prize and the final nine get an open line to an investment funding pool of $15 million.
But here’s the most interesting part. The initial judging of applications is done by the ClimateSpark community — that is, anybody who wants to register online and contribute their own thoughts on the various business proposals that have been submitted.
“This sophisticated on-line platform is designed so the community – all of you — can provide our business proponents with comments and advice throughout the 90-day challenge. And it’s the community that selects the winners based on a sophisticated quality assessment, not just popularity,” according to Julia Langer, executive director of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
If you’re interested, you can apply online by visiting the ClimateSpark Web site. After you’ve applied, here’s what happens:
1. A diverse community of investors, entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, innovators and thinkers provides comments/advice on the business submissions and rates proposals with a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” The more you participate, the more points you earn and the greater your odds of winning one of our great prizes. Your ratings will also carry more weight if your comments are seen as valuable by the community.
2. ClimateSpark has also recruited some experts to weigh in with comments and questions.
3. Smart businesses support their entry by responding to comments, answering questions and encouraging allies to join ClimateSpark and be part of the conversation. This first ‘round’ lasts two months, providing an incentive to get ideas in early and engage with the community.
4. Through a process of weighted voting, nine finalists are selected to go forward into the final round, which starts Jan. 3, 2011.
5. The nine finalists are presented with some specific challenges and our community once again gets a chance to comment and rate their submissions, as they’ve evolved.
6. The winner is selected through a combination of rating and expert review. The winner will be announced at the ClimateSpark Summit in February 2011 and receive TAF’s $10,000 prize.
7. All nine finalists will have a chance to pitch their ideas live to a panel of experts and investors with approximately $15 million available for investment in this space.
If you check out the “community” area you’ll notice that I’ve registered as a commenter/reviewer, as anyone can. The ClimateSpark site is currently in soft-launch mode, with the hard launch coming Nov. 3. But I encourage you to check it out, roam around and participate in this unique project.