InBC Investment Corp. has made its first investments to date, backing a trio of Vancouver-based venture funds focused on entrepreneurs driving climate change action, advancing reconciliation efforts, and innovating for the future.
Evok Innovations, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, and Yaletown Partners are each receiving between $5 million CAD and $10 million from the British Columbia (BC) Crown corporation for their latest venture funds. InBC declined to share how much capital it invested into each individual fund.
“Each of these funds lines up with one of those impact objectives really strongly.”
-Leah Nguyen, InBC
In an interview with BetaKit, InBC chief investment officer Leah Nguyen noted that InBC evaluated prospective venture fund investments based on “four key” criteria. These factors included each fund’s connection to BC, alignment with InBC’s impact objectives, whether they are adopting and leveraging environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices, and the potential for financial returns.
“Our impact objectives are driving climate action, innovating for the future, advancing reconciliation, and elevating inclusive communities,” said Nguyen. “And so each of these funds lines up with one of those impact objectives really strongly … Evok for driving climate action, Raven with advancing reconciliation, and Yaletown with innovating for the future.”
InBC, a $500 million CAD strategic investment fund created in 2021 by the Government of BC, is an initiative under StrongerBC, BC’s economic recovery plan, and Budget 2021. InBC unveiled its investment strategy for the fund recently in October.
The Crown corporation set out some robust targets, including investing $75 million to $125 million in funds focused on pre-seed and seed stage startups. InBC’s investment in early-stage companies will encompass $150 million to $225 million in Series A and B raises through pooled investment funds, with the possibility for InBC to invest directly in companies.
When it comes to later stage companies, the Crown corporation is more focused on direct investing but said that will also include some fund-of-funds investing, as it looks to back entrepreneurs and fellow investors that advance its impact objectives, which align with the BC government’s priorities.
Nguyen noted that InBC does not have a fixed allocation between venture fund investing versus direct investments, adding that the Crown corporation plans to evaluate market demand and adjust accordingly. That being said, Nguyen said InBC is already seeing lots of inbound fund opportunity.
Evok invests in decarbonization verticals, including carbon capture use and storage, low-carbon fuels, clean energy and grid innovations, and advanced materials. In October, the fund announced the first close for its $300 million USD Fund II, with $150 million of the capital committed.
Evok’s mission is to protect the environment and strengthen the economy. The firm’s $100 million Fund I has made 16 investments to date in carbon capture, electrification, hydrogen, and digital technology.
“We are excited to welcome InBC as the newest partner in Evok’s second fund,” said Evok partner Marty Reed. “This partnership will not only support growth companies in British Columbia, it will also help the province meet its goals outlined in the CleanBC Roadmap.”
In its 2021 budget the province announced $506 million in new investments to support CleanBC, a BC initiative to battle climate change. That funding included $269 million in new funding for clean transportation, energy-efficient buildings, and other cleantech initiatives.
Vancouver-based Raven Capital, “North America’s only Indigenous-led and owned venture capital intermediary,” closed an initial $46 million CAD for Fund II in September, towards its ultimate target of $75 million.
Founded in 2017, Raven Capital invests in early-stage, innovative, scalable, purpose-driven Indigenous enterprises, through an Indigenous impact framework. Raven Capital has made 20 investments in 11 companies to date through its first fund, amassing a portfolio that includes Animikii, Plato Testing, Virtual Gurus, Social Awareness Group, Satya Organic, Ginew, and Salish Soils.
“InBC’s investment in Raven is economic reconciliation in action and an implementation of Article 3 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Paul Lacerte, managing partner and chief impact officer with Raven Capital.
Yaletown Partners’ fourth fund to date is its second Innovation Growth Fund, IGF II. Yaletown secured the first close for that fund in 2021, raising $130 million to support Canadian software and artificial intelligence startups that reduce emissions. The investment firm hopes to raise a total of $200 million for IGF II.
As Hans Knapp, co-founder and partner, Yaletown Partners, put it: “Having the support of a partner who shares our dedication to driving both positive impact and financial returns, particularly in our home jurisdiction of British Columbia, is paramount to our continued success.”
InBC plans to launch its direct investment program in the spring of 2023.
Feature image courtesy Unsplash. Photo by Alejandro Luengo.