This morning at the MaRS Discovery District, Sir Richard Branson announced a new initiative between MaRS and Virgin Unite Canada, the non-profit arm of the Virgin Group. Speaking during a breakfast event focused on “Investing in Business as a Force for Good”, Branson announced that the MaRS / Virgin partnership would feature the creation of a new, national impact venture fund, with $1 million in seed capital already committed by Virgin Unite Canada and the Vancouver-based Mindset Social Innovation Foundation.
The fund will be managed by the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, and will focus on early-stage for-profit companies with a core social or environmental mission. The fund will also look to enhance the support provided to early stage ventures by Canadian accelerator programs, including MaRS’ Impact8 in Toronto, RADIUS Ventures in Vancouver, and Esplanade in Montreal.
“I strongly believe that entrepreneurs have a key role in tackling environmental and social issues with solutions that will last for the long run and help create jobs,” said Sir Richard. “Our partnership with MaRS will support inspiring entrepreneurs with the mentoring, training and investments they need to succeed.”
In addition to the initial $1 million in seed capital, the fund has already secured $500,000 more in commitments. MaRS hopes to raise up to $5 million for the fund in 2015.