A couple of weeks ago, while I was at the OSEA-APPrO show in Toronto, the other 3 members of Morgan Solar’s Biz Dev team attended Governor Schwarzenegger’s 3rd Global Climate Summit in Davis, California. At the Summit, Schwarzenegger announced the R20: Regions of Climate Action, a new global initiative that aims to leverage the flexibility and momentum of subnational governments and other actors to combat climate change, and to build a green economy globally. We think it has lots of potential, are are excited to see how the partnership unfolds.
Schwarzenegger also toured the tradeshow floor, and my colleague Sebastian got the chance to explain the Sun Simba to him. Schwarzenegger commented that the technology was interesting , and that he was happy the California Energy Commission had given us support to enter the Californian market.
On that note, there’s been some concern from our friends and contacts in Ontario that doing business in the Sunshine State will take us away from our home province. We’d like to reiterate that this isn’t the case. Our R & D operations and head office will remain in Toronto, and we will set up manufacturing facilities in Ontario to the scale that the provincial, and eventually national, market will bear.
We can count at least three really important factors keeping us here:
1. The proximity to several high-ranking universities and the local talent. We have now brought together a world class team of engineers, optical scientists, and professionals; of our 30 full-time employees, 24 are graduates of Ontario universities or colleges, and three have obtained or in the final stages of obtaining PhDs.
2. The highly supportive government policies, programs, and people. Ontario has also proven a good place to attract private investment. To date we have raised $8.2 million from a mix of strategic investors and venture capitalists (including two Toronto-based VCs), and over $5 million from the Ontario and Federal governments. If we were in San Jose, we would be one of 30 or 40 energy start-ups. So far, we’ve found it’s better to be the growing fish in the smaller pond.
3. We genuinely like living here, and so do our employees. In fact, Morgan Solar’s even attracted people here, contributing significant ‘brain gain’ to the province: in August we hired the former CEO of the California-based Concentrated Solar Thermal developer eSolar as our CEO. Asif is considered one of the most successful start-up CEOs in the solar energy world, and has led the development and commercialization of over 20 technical products in the cleantech and aerospace markets. Earlier this year we attracted Sean Carton, our Vice-President of Manufacturing, from Nypro Inc., one of our strategic investors, in Boston. Sean has over 26 years experience in setting up automated production lines for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Our new CEO and VP of Manufacturing had to relocate to Toronto because the high level work is and will continue to be here.
A final reason – Ontario is an important market for us: it is one of the first we are entering; as said, we plan to deploy as many systems as the market will bear; and it will always get a first look at our latest innovations. That said, California is and will continue to be one of our largest and most important markets.
Later, markets such as Southern Europe, India, Africa, and the Middle East will come to be as important as Ontario and the U.S. Southwest. In this respect, it is worth restating Morgan Solar’s vision, which is to make solar energy the most widely used and affordable power source in the world.