Nova Scotia government consolidates Innovacorp, Nova Scotia Business Inc

Nova Scotia, Canada lighthouse
Nova Scotia says the changes address issues of overlapping mandates, duplicate operations, outdated legislation.

The Nova Scotia government is consolidating Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) and Innovacorp to create a singular corporation.

This amalgamation is part of the province’s move to merge five economic development and infrastructure organizations to become two new Crown corporations: Invest Nova Scotia and Build Nova Scotia.

Invest Nova Scotia is the result of NSBI and Innovacorp’s consolidation, and will primarily focus on the clients and work of the two organizations. Tom Hickey has been appointed as the executive chair for the newly minted organization, replacing NSBI’s nine-member board and Innovacorp’s five board members.

In response to questions from BetaKit, the province said that by combining their expertise under one leadership structure, it hopes to improve focus and coordination.

“Previously, companies that began as start-ups working with Innovacorp would’ve had to go to NSBI if they needed support to increase exports or production capacity as they grew,” according to a spokesperson for the province. “Now, the new Invest Nova Scotia will streamline the entry points for business and support them throughout all stages of their growth and development.”

The recruitment process for finding an Invest Nova Scotia CEO will begin this summer, according to the provincial government. Once Invest Nova Scotia is in place, the CEO will report directly to the government through the Minister of Economic Development.

Innovacorp’s 37 employees and NSBI’s 94 headcount will come together under Invest Nova Scotia for a total workforce of 131.

The provincial operating grants of NSBI ($44,766,000) and Innovacorp ($9,334,000) will move into Invest Nova Scotia, with a total annual operating grant of $54,094,000.

Established in 1995 and based in Halifax, Innovacorp is an early stage venture capital firm that has a focus on helping to scale tech startups based in the province. Its target industries include information technology, cleantech, life sciences, and ocean tech.

Malcom Fraser was hired as Innovacorp’s latest president and CEO in 2017, replacing Stephen Duff who held those roles since 2013.

Innovacorp’s accelerator programs include Greenshoots, support for early stage tech companies in the agtech and bioeconomy sectors; Start-up yard at Cove Oceantech Demo Programs, two opportunities to accelerate the commercialization of ocean technologies; as well as the Start-up Visa Program, among others.

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Innovacorp also manages the Nova Scotia First Fund, which has invested in the likes of 3D BioFibR, CacheFlo, CarbonCure Technologies, DeCell Technologies, Proposify, TruLeaf, and QuickFacts.

Fraser told Entrevestor in December that since 2010, Innovacorp has invested $62 million in 89 companies and received $111 million in returns from exits.

In May, Innovacorp won the Venture Capital Deal of the Year recognition from the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) for its investment in Meta Materials. Innovacorp said this deal resulted in a 35X return for the VC firm last year.

NSBI is the province’s economic development agency, providing business development services such as the Export Development Program, which aims to support businesses looking to increase sales outside of Nova Scotia, adopt technology, and improve competitiveness.

Following a review of 20 agencies, the provincial government said that these recent changes will address issues of overlapping mandates, duplicate operations, outdated legislation and “arm’s-length boards making decisions involving millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money.”

As part of these changes, Build Nova Scotia will replace Nova Scotia Lands and take over the work that has been done by Develop Nova Scotia. Build Nova Scotia will also absorb Harbourside Commercial Park in Sydney.

Image via Unsplash.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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