Tom Rand is a venture capitalist, author, advisor, and currently acts as both the Managing Partner at MaRS Cleantech Fund as Senior Cleantech Advisor at the MaRS Discovery District, in Toronto, Canada.
Active in the cleantech sector both as a venture capitalist and from a policy perspective, Tom understands the challenges entrepreneurs face. His focus at MaRS is on new ventures based on low-carbon technologies and the supporting infrastructure, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Tom started his career as a software renegade in high school. Then he went legit and founded Voice Courier Inc. (VCi) in 1991 to service the emerging Interactive Voice Response market. Tom led VCi’s expansion to over 100 employees in three countries, with revenue in excess of US$20 million annually. The VCi Group of Companies was profitable for each of the 12 years it was under his control, and was sold in the spring, 2005.
Tom now focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is active in cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization, and public advocacy. Tom sits on the board of a number of clean energy companies and organizations.
Tom’s book, Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World, is distributed by Greenleaf Book Group in the US, and Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Canada. Tom's second book - working title Waking the Frog - will be released in Canada and the US in early 2014.
Tom holds a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, an MSc in philosophy of science from the University of London / London School of Economics and an MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto. Tom is an Action Canada Fellow.
Industry Expertise (5)
Renewables and Environmental
VC and Private Equity
Areas of Expertise (5)
Carbon and Climate Science: Industrial Endgame?
Managing Director – MaRS Cleantech Fund (professional)
The MaRS Cleantech Fund provides early-stage funding to cleantech companies through its strategic relationship with the highly successful MaRS Discovery District. MaRS is where science, technology and social entrepreneurs get the help they need. Where all kinds of people meet to spark new ideas. And where a global reputation for innovation is being earned, one success story at a time.
Author – Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Techniques to Save Our World (professional)
In Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit, author Tom Rand, (engineer, Cleantech authority, venture capitalist, pragmatic entrepreneur and philosopher) provides an in-depth look at ten technologies that together can bring a clean future, free of fossil fuels. Tom provides education and hope. His personal views and anecdotes are combined with a hardheaded engineering and business perspective. Beautiful color photographs bring the text to life.
Board Member – Environmental Defence (professional)
Since 1984, Environmental Defence has been inspiring change by connecting people with environmental issues that affect their daily lives in their homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods. We are Canada's most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
Board Member – MMB Research (professional)
Founded in January 2008, MMB Research is a Toronto-based engineering firm with industry leading expertise and experience in wireless, embedded, and Smart Energy technologies. Our mission is to utilize this expertise to broaden and accelerate adoption of Smart Energy technology by creating software, tools and services that help our customers rapidly bring smart energy solutions to market.
Board Member – Morgan Solar (professional)
Morgan Solar was founded in 2007 to develop next generation solar power technologies that will make solar energy significantly less expensive. Based in Toronto, Canada, Morgan Solar has pioneered a whole new approach to designing and manufacturing solar modules. The result is market disruptive products that lead in efficiency, durability, and cost. Morgan Solar combines revolutionary optics with well-established manufacturing processes to make environmentally friendly energy available to all.
Advisory Board – Hydrostor (professional)
Hydrostor is a Canadian company in the energy sector based in Toronto, Ontario whose technology focuses on using compressed air as the medium for storing energy. The scalable and low cost nature of the technology provides grid-scale electricity storage products which help ensure existing power and infrastructure systems are used more efficiently and helps with the integration of intermittent renewable power.
Director – VCi Green Funds (professional)
The VCi Green Fund is a private venture fund, founded by Tom Rand in 2005. The fund provides seed and venture capital to companies developing technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy use, particularly CO2. Efficiencies and alternate sources are each considered target areas of application. We help by providing capital and active on-going participation; advice and involvement at the board level.
Action Canada Fellow (professional)
In 2008, Tom was made an Action Canada Fellow. Action Canada is a national fellowship program for promising young Canadians. The program enhances Fellows’ leadership skills, broadens their understanding of Canada and its policy choices, and builds an exceptional network of leaders for our future. Through its program, Action Canada creates a highly connected network of leaders with leadership development skills who are committed to Canada’s future.
Member – Canada’s 2012 Clean50 (professional)
Tom was named as a member of Canada’s 2012 Clean50, which honours individuals who have made significant contributions to Canada’s sustainability and clean capitalism. Tom was chosen from over 300 applications for his tireless advocacy of clean energy in Canada, and the financial viability of green technologies.
Outstanding Commitment to the Environment, Earth Day Canada 2013 (professional)
Reflection of leadership on environmental issues within the business community.
University of Waterloo: BASc, Electrical Engineering 1991
King's College London, U. of London: M.Sc., Philosophy of Science 2001
University of Toronto: M.A. and Ph.D., Philosophy 2006
- MaRS Discovery District
- MaRS Cleantech Fund
- Cape Farewell
Event Appearances (22)
Building North America’s Greenest Hotel
TEDxToronto Toronto, Ontario
Moderator – CleanTech and Smart Technology Trends
The 7th Annual Renewable Energy Conference Halifax, Nova Scotia
The 7th Annual Renewable Energy Conference Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canadian Resonsible Investment Conference Victoria, British Columbia
IEEE Canada Women in Engineering National Conference Toronto, Ontario
E3 Symposium – Education for a Sustainable Energy Economy Toronto, Ontario
Lived it Lecture – Cleantech
MaRS Event Series MaRS Discovery District, Toronto
Canadian Business & Techology Conference Toronto, Ontario
Investing in Tomorrow’s Infrastructure – How Smarter Choices Can Help Battle Climate Change Toronto, Ontario
KEYNOTE SPEECH: Kicking the Fossil Fuel Habit — Drivers and Opportunities for Municipal Governments
2012 Sustainable Communities Conference and Trade Show Ottawa, Ontario
Environment Week 2012 University of Toronto
The Sustainable Metropolis: The business of smarter, sustainable cities
CityAge – The Innovation City MaRS Discovery District, Toronto
Environmental Action: The Path to a Flourishing Region
Greater Toronto Summit 2011 Toronto, Ontario
Gala 2011 - Greater Toronto Chapter of the CaGBC Toronto, Ontario
Energy 2011 – A Lean and Green Future: Making Energy Visible Mississauga, Ontario
KEYNOTE SPEECH: Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit
Lakeshore Planning Council Annual General Meeting Toronto, Ontario
KEYNOTE SPEECH – Kicking the Fossil Fuel Habit: Possibility and Necessity
Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival Toronto, Ontario
BOMEX 2011 St. John's Newfoundland
Technology & Sustainability
3rd Annual Brick Works Forum on Leadership, Innovation and Sustainability Toronto, Ontario
Carbon – How Low Can We Go: The Scope and Scale of Clean Energy
VX Canada 2011 Toronto, Ontario
KEYNOTE SPEECH – Sustainability: The Shift to a New Economy
VX Canada 2011 Toronto, Ontario
Marfa Dialogues 2012 Marfa, Texas
Sample Talks (3)
Waking the Frog: Unlocking our Paralysis
Based on Tom's upcoming book - Waking the Frog - an in depth and hard-hitting analysis of our existing paralysis on climate change, and remaining possibility for action. By understanding the systemic reasons underpinning our underwhelming commitment to climate action - psychology, economics, market dynamics, and sheer momentum - we can begin to unlock our economic and technical might on the defining problem of the 21st century.
Kicking the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World
A bare-knuckled approach provided by a seasoned and pragmatic entrepreneur on the necessity, possibility and difficulty of making a transition to a low-carbon economy. The talk includes an overview of low-carbon infrastructure, cutting edge clean technologies, capital requirements combined with an underpinning of climate science.
CleanTech and Smart Technology Trends
This workshop will focus on clean technologies and new technologies around smart grid that provide buildings and municipalities with efficient and effective measures to reduce energy costs and dependency.
- Author Appearance