In December, the British Columbia government announced that it was establishing a $100 million BC Tech Fund. The goal of the fund is to provide access to capital to promising companies and is part of the province’s larger BC Tech strategy, which includes supporting 600,000 K-12 students in getting coding experience.
The government has now announced the fund’s official launch, along with the announcement that Toronto-based firm Kensington Capital Partners will manage the fund. The BC government went through a process of assessing 12 other possible fund managers before choosing Kensington.
Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education, said that it will assess the success of the fund by the number of jobs it creates and BC businesses receiving investment.
“The BC Tech Fund will make more early-stage capital available in BC so that BC tech companies can grow their business,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services. “I’m confident that Kensington will lead BC Tech Fund investments to good returns for the province and continue to grow BC’s tech sector. This agreement represents the best deal for BC taxpayers; by investing in BC companies, the BC Tech Fund will drive job creation and help create the jobs of tomorrow.”
The provincial government and Kensington Capital Partners also announced an initial investment in Vancouver-based connected car platform Mojio, its first investment ever.
“The BC Tech Fund is a great example of how the provincial government is walking the walk when it comes to fueling tech innovation across BC,” said Mojio CEO Kenny Hawk. “This funding will help us attract and retain top engineering talent and ensure we have the runway to launch in prioritized international markets throughout 2017.”
The BC government said that Kensington Capital Partners is an active participant in the BC venture capital market, having invested $100 million in the province prior to this fund. Kensington will establish a Vancouver office, with Dr. Gerri Sinclair at the helm as managing director of both the Vancouver office and BC operations. In the past, Sinclair has acted as the chair of the Canadian Federal Government’s Telecom Policy Review Panel, general manager of MSN Canada, and a strategic innovation consultant at Ryerson University. She also founded NCompass Labs, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001.
Kensington will also manage the existing venture capital investments of the B.C. Renaissance Capital Fund, which the government says has attracted more than $350 million in investment into BC companies.
“We’re delighted that the BC government chose Kensington to manage the BC Tech Fund,” said Sinclair. “Between the Kensington team’s extensive investing expertise across several platforms – we invest to achieve the best possible financial returns – and my own deep industry connections and market knowledge, we look forward to playing an even more important role in building out the emerging technology ecosystem in the province.”
Future investments from the BC Tech Fund will be focused on tech industries like digital media, information communications technology (ICT), life sciences and health care, and clean technology.
While Kensington will be responsible for making investment decisions, Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education, said that it will assess the success of the fund by the number of jobs it creates, and the number of BC businesses it invests in, and the amount of funds leveraged.
Kensington will also work with stakeholders from all over the province on initiatives to grow BC’s venture capital system. The firm wants to help create new venture capital funds in BC through “ecosystem-building activities”; attract investment into BC tech companies and BC-based venture capital funds; connect BC businesses with strategic partners; and develop solutions for regional issues related to accessing venture capital.