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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Ivey alumni come together to scale renewable natural gas

  • Elizabeth Suske, MBA '10
  • |
  • Dec 13, 2021
Ivey alumni come together to scale renewable natural gas

Sustainability is a common theme in the careers of serial entrepreneurs Steve Suske, MBA ’77, and Bas van Berkel, MBA ’06. Bas is founder and President & CEO of BerQ RNG, a company that develops projects that upgrade biogas from dairy, industrial, and landfill sites to renewable natural gas (“RNG”). Steve develops senior housing residences through his company, Suske Capital Inc., but also has renewable energy projects in his portfolio.

Both have always remained active as Ivey alumni, contributing their skills as Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and judges for Ivey’s New Venture Program as well as for numerous other business plan competitions hosted at the school. For both, it was an opportunity to give back to the school and to network with other alumni­.

At a business plan competition in early 2019, the two struck up a conversation and realized their common threads of development with an interest in sustainability. It set the backdrop for two alumni from two different industries to come together to help the environment.

A few months later, Steve, through his company, Suske Capital Inc., became a shareholder in BerQ RNG, providing seed capital for Bas to grow his team and hire experienced developers and grow the pipeline of RNG projects. Bas and his staff moved into Suske Capital’s office in Oakville, Ontario.

This investment allowed Bas to grow his company to the point where it piqued the interest of Starwood Energy Group Global, LLC (“Starwood Energy”), a private equity investment firm based in Greenwich, CT that specializes in energy infrastructure investments.  Through its existing general opportunity funds and affiliated investment vehicles, Starwood Energy has raised in excess of $3 billion of equity capital and has executed transactions totaling more than $8 billion in enterprise value.

In August 2021, BerQ RNG closed on an investment partnership with Starwood Energy which will fund a new platform that will develop and acquire renewable natural gas projects in all stages, ranging from early development to operating projects. As a part of the transaction, BerQ will contribute its projects, team and development expertise, and Starwood Energy will contribute its existing farm-based RNG investments and fund the platform. The platform is majority-owned by Starwood Energy and Steve and Bas will stay on as shareholders.

Once completed, the combined projects of the platform will result in an average annual reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 93,200 tonnes for the period of 2022 to 2025.

Their partnership is a true success story of Ivey Business School’s well-known alumni network. Both Steve and Bas admit that while mentoring teams and judging business plans is an investment in time and energy, staying engaged in alumni community paid off in allowing them to meet and reach this milestone together, while contributing positively to the environment.