Toronto-based Cross-Border Impact Ventures (CBIV) has secured commitments of $30 million USD in an initial close of its new Women’s and Children’s Health Technology Fund.
Through the fund, CBIV’s managing partners, Annie Thériault and Donna Parr, aim to apply their years of experience working in impact investing, venture capital (VC), and private equity (PE) to investing in a traditionally underserved market: women and youth-focused healthtech companies.
CBIV’s ultimate target fund size is $100 million to $200 million.
CBIV plans to focus primarily on medical device, diagnostic, and digital health firms based in North America, Europe, and Israel, with a secondary eye towards commercial-stage companies in emerging markets that possess “global technology transfer potential.”
Founded in 2019, CBIV was created by Thériault and Parr with the financial and institutional support of Toronto-based nonprofit Grand Challenges Canada (GCC), before it was recently spun out of GCC into a standalone private impact fund. GCC, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada, is an impact-first investor.
“At the time, I sort of came to the conclusion in my career that I really wanted to launch my own venture firm,” said Thériault. “I joined GCC and the idea was, let’s create a fund that will benefit women, children, and adolescents in emerging economies.”
After doing some research and noticing disparities in health outcomes across genders and a lack of investment in women-focused health, CBIV decided to focus its efforts on healthtech, specifically, a move that allows it to leverage Parr’s past experience working in the sector.
This $30 million represents the first capital commitments towards CBIV’s ultimate target of $100 million to $200 million.
So far, the fund has secured commitments from a group of limited partners that includes GCC, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Global Health Investment Corporation, the Hamilton Community Foundation, Rally Total Impact Fund, and RockCreek. The fund’s strategic investor commitments include support from the venture arm of a major healthcare company.
Through the fund, CBIV intends to invest in healthtech companies that address the health needs of women, children, and adolescents, or offer solutions that make health systems more resilient.
“We launched Cross-Border Impact Ventures based on the idea that borders should not dictate who gets access to the best health technologies,” said Thériault.
CBIV aims to target growth-stage healthtech companies with $1 million to $10 million in revenue, as well as firms developing tech that requires regulatory approval and possess at least one product with Europe’s CE Mark or approval from the United States’ Food and Drug Administration. CBIV plans to invest mainly at the Series B stage, while also putting some capital towards Series A rounds, hence its large target fund size.
“It’s a dual-market approach,” Parr told BetaKit. “At least 75 percent of our investments [will be] in high-income markets like North America, Europe, the UK, and Israel. But all [of these] technologies [also] have to be applicable in lower and middle-income countries.”
Although investment in women’s healthtech has risen over the past year, reports say it still represents a small portion of the market. In the United States, firms like FemHealth Ventures have emerged to help fill this gap.
In Canada, despite an increasing focus on impact investing from Telus’ corporate impact fund and firms like Active Impact Investments, and healthtech investing from funds like Amplitude Ventures, CBIV stands out as an impact-focused healthtech investment fund for women and children.
“I started my career in the hedge fund world,” said Thériault. “We always think of arbitrage opportunities: you want to find places that others are not.”
Thériault is an experienced VC, lender, and operator, who most recently served as the chief investment officer of GCC and the managing director of the Every Woman Every Child Innovation Marketplace. Prior to that, she helped found Toronto-based female-focused business accelerator The Big Push, and worked in various roles at Northwater Capital Management, Export Development Canada, and Grenville Strategic Royalty Corp.
Parr, CBIV’s other managing partner, has spent over 25 years working in VC, PE, private debt, and corporate finance as an institutional investor, portfolio manager, and board member. Parr began her career at OMERS, before spending some time with the Canada Pension Plan, and Crimson Capital, among other firms.
With CBIV, Parr aims to leverage her past experience in the medtech space, having previously served in roles that include senior vice-president of venture investments at the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund and executive director of CellAegis Devices.
In terms of its investment approach, CBIV plans to apply a gender and racial justice-based lens when it considers company leadership and employee composition, as well as how its products are designed and tested.
On top of seeking returns, CBIV also plans to target, measure, monitor, and report on impact in terms of health outcomes, and has set an ambitious impact target of saving 500,000 lives and improving the lives of 10 million underserved women and children in emerging markets across its portfolio companies.
“New models like this fund, which leverages global market economics to create a business case for technologies useful in emerging economies, are critical to bring in new resources to save and improve lives,” said Jocelyn Mackie, co-CEO of GCC.
CBIV aims to invest in a total of 12 to 17 companies through the fund, depending on its total size, with a goal of investing around $10 million per company over multiple rounds.
Thériault and Parr plan to begin making investments through the CBIV’s Women’s and Children’s Health Technology Fund during the first quarter of 2022, when they also hope to secure the fund’s second close. CBIV aims to complete its final close by the end of next year.
Feature image courtesy of Cross-Border Impact Ventures