NACO continues to expand Canadian reach with new hub


The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is looking to continue to broaden its footprint in Canada with the launch of Canada Zone, a new hub aimed to facilitate interprovincial investment.

“This will ensure that high potential entrepreneurs in Calgary have instant access to a national network of investors.”
– Claudio Rojas

Canada Zone will initially be a “custom-built space” within Calgary’s Platform Innovation Centre, which is set to open to entrepreneurs in the fall. NACO said that space will use “digital infrastructure” to facilitate investment and deal syndication. Working with Platform Calgary and other local partners, NACO plans to establish connections between other Canada Zone hubs across the country and build a “constellation of digital-first environments” to open up ways entrepreneurs can access capital.

The announcement of Canada Zone was made at the 2021 NACO West Summit, a virtual event comprising peer-to-peer networking, roundtable discussions, workshops, thought leader talks, and an interactive showcase.

“The digital infrastructure NACO has created over these past twelve months will amplify national deal syndication,” said Sandi Gilbert, the past chair at NACO and based in Alberta. “This will support both entrepreneurs and local investors, which is key to leveraging NACO’s national reach to ramp up investment within Alberta and across Western Canada.”

NACO has sought to expand its presence across a number of regions over the two years. Lately, the national angel investing organization has put a particular focus on Alberta.

This month, NACO launched Pathways to Capital, an initiative focused on increasing access to capital opportunities for entrepreneurs in Alberta, with plans to take it national in the coming months. Canada Zone is a part of the Pathways to Capital initiative.

NACO has been open about plans to expand its reach in Alberta. In February 2020, the organization revealed it would open a Western Canada regional headquarters in Calgary. In October, NACO received $500,000 for its new office, in addition to helping NACO support not-for-profit angel organizations and business accelerators and provide virtual delivery of NACO Academy investment training, mentorship, and ecosystem events.

RELATED: Alberta 2021 budget includes funding for tech sector as part of overall economic recovery plan

NACO’s upped activity in Alberta comes as the province’s tech ecosystem has seen a number of notable changes and growth. According to a recent report from the CVCA, in 2020, Alberta reported $455 million in venture capital investment, which is double the investment in 2019.

However, several prominent figures in the ecosystem, including Gilbert, have called for more angel participation in Western Canada. The provincial government has also played a role in some of the regional changes affecting that – with the United Conservative Party cutting key innovation programs and instating new ones over 2019 and 2020.

“NACO is thrilled to launch its first Canada Zone in partnership with Platform Calgary to attract new pools of capital into the region,” said Claudio Rojas, CEO of NACO. “This will ensure that high potential entrepreneurs in Calgary have instant access to a national network of investors.”

In addition to announcing Canada Zone, NACO also revealed True Angle as the winner of the 2021 Edmonton Startup of the Year award. True Angle has developed a wearable device that uses software-enabled biofeedback technology to deliver a proven method to regain swallowing function. The startup was founded by CEO Jana Rieger, who spun True Angle out of the University of Alberta in 2017.

Image courtesy NACO.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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