Accelia Capital launches $50 million VC fund to back women-led startups in Québec

Accelia Capital wants to invest 70 percent of its funds in Québec businesses owned or managed by women.

A new $50 million Québec venture capital fund is putting its support behind female-led technology startups.

Accelia Capital intends to fund innovative, Québec technology companies. The fund will focus “particularly [on] high-impact, high-performing, women-owned and women-led businesses, which in turn will foster increased diversity in the sector,” according to the fund’s partners.

“It is now generally recognized that increased diversity promotes better decisions in companies and often leads to better performance.”

The fund will be supported by a broader range of institutional investors, including major players and leading business partners “without whom the project would not have seen the light of day,” the fund’s partners noted. While the new fund has secured commitments, it has yet to close.

Institutional partners participating in the fund include the Government of Québec through Investissement Québec; the National Bank of Canada; and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (through Teralys Capital).

Private partners include Beneva, Cossette, and Stingray. Along with backing from a slew of government agencies and institutions, private partners, 20 “influential” businesswomen are investing in the fund. Mélanie Dunn, the CEO of Cossette, Claudine Blondin co-chair of the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, and Isabelle Gendreau, director of finance and investments for Groupe 3MEI Inc. are among the women participating in the fund.

The fund’s founding partners are Christine Beaubien and Annick Charbonneau, two technology entrepreneurs who will lead investments in companies that develop or integrate new technologies.

Beaubien is an angel investor, and was the co-owner of Versus, an IT company that was acquired by Fusepoint, also an IT company, in 2004.

A graduate in international business from Pepperdine University in California, Charbonneau also holds a certificate in business strategy and artificial intelligence from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Women entrepreneurs remain underfunded compared to their male counterparts,” asserted the fund’s partners. According to an internal survey of Québec incubators and accelerators, 30 percent of new technology companies in Québec are owned or managed by women.

Accelia Capital said it’s objective is to invest 70 percent of its funds in innovative Québec businesses owned or managed by women. The fund’s partners said that will help to close the gender gap in venture capital investments.

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Accelia Capital is not the only Canadian fund investing in female founders.

Most recently, Toronto-based Cross-Border Impact Ventures raised $30 million for its new Women’s and Children’s Health Technology Fund, and The51 added new investors as it looks to raise its Food & AgTech fund.

As of September, Sandpiper Ventures had closed the first $10 million of its planned $20 million CAD fund dedicated to investing in women-led companies and startups. The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund (AWVF) launched Sandpiper in May 2020 to address the existing gender imbalance in Canada’s venture capital ecosystem. It was founded by a group of nine leading entrepreneurs, investors, and executives.

The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund and the investment startup The51 also created an initiative in 2020 to support and fund women’s ventures across Canada.

As well, StandUp Ventures secured just over $30 million in initial capital for its second fund in September, after finding early success investing in women-led startups.

The federal government also has mandates for increasing investments in women-led companies. Through the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI), which backs venture funds, the government calls for recipients to make investments in underrepresented groups, such as women and racialized communities. The federally-backed BDC Capital has also been operating its Women in Technology Venture Fund since 2017, backing the likes of TealBook, Sheertex, and HiMama.

“Numerous studies demonstrate that women receive less venture capital funding than their male counterparts, despite the fact that they are increasingly active in launching technology companies,” Beaubien said.

“It is now generally recognized that increased diversity promotes better decisions in companies and often leads to better performance,” she added. “Accelia Capital was created to leverage this unique opportunity to generate good returns for our investors while creating sustainable impact in Québec by supporting and accelerating female leadership in technology.”

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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