MaRS and Virgin Unite Canada partner to create impact venture fund

Sir Richard Branson

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.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

  • Roberta Voulon

    What is this Esplanade accelerator in Montréal of which you speak? 🙂 Haven’t heard of it and I can’t find anything about it!

    • Via the release: “The Esplanade is a collaborative space in Montreal dedicated to social innovation. Part co-working space, part accelerator and part social lab, its mission is to foster and accelerate the impact of an ambitious community of business people and citizens whose vision is to solve together the economic, social and environmental challenges of today.”