ventureLAB unveils Hardware Angel Network, supporting pre-seed and seed-stage hardware startups

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The network plans to make its first investments in the fall, with a focus on deep tech, hardware, and semiconductors.

In what appears to be an expansion of its Hardware Catalyst Initiative, ventureLAB has launched the Hardware Angel Network (HAN). The Markham, Ont.-based technology hub claims HAN will be the only hardware and deep-tech-focused investor network supporting pre-seed and seed stage startups in the country.

More than 30 investors have committed support to the Hardware Angel Network from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. The committed members include: Angel Forum, Angel One Investor Network, Boreal Ventures, ExCap Advisors, The Firehood, Golden Triangle Angel Network, Good News Ventures, iGan Partners, i4 Capital, Index Exchange (IX Labs), Maple Leaf Angels, Panda Angel Partners, RiSC Capital, Spark Angel Network, and angel investors including Julia Elvidge, Goeffrey Goad, Paul Slaby, Raymond Chik, and Ted Graham.

ventureLAB said it will rely on its members’ commitments to invest in the growth of hardware and deep-tech focused companies. The tech hub expects the average cheque size to range between $50,000 and $250,000.

ventureLAB said various private-sector partners have committed their support, including Sterling Industries, a North American contract manufacturer and assembler of medical devices, as well as IP law firm Bereskin & Parr and funding platform Easly.

ventureLAB claimed the Hardware Catalyst Initiative is Canada’s only lab and incubator for founders building hardware- and semiconductor-focused products. The program supports companies that produce the hardware for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing.

ventureLAB said it will rely on its members’ commitments to invest in the growth of hardware and deep-tech focused companies. The tech hub expects the average cheque size to range between $50,000 and $250,000.

A ventureLAB spokesperson told BetaKit that the organization is looking for hardware and deep-tech startups with a strong team, innovative technology, and a scalable business model to join the network.

“More specifically, we are targeting pre-seed to series A stage startups who are in their funding rounds ranging from $250,000 to $2 million with a potential for follow-on investments.”

The startups should be in a range of $2 million to $10 million pre-money valuation, according to ventureLAB.

HAN’s goal is to support companies building transformational products and solutions with global impact. The initiative also aims to bridge the gap for Canadian hardware and semiconductor companies looking to raise critical funds for state-of-the-art technologies.

A ventureLAB representative said HAN will enable companies to prototype their technology through the Hardware Catalyst Initiative lab, which will accelerate product development, making the companies more attractive prospects for investors.

The Hardware Angel Network is intended to be a permanent initiative. ventureLAB called it a network, similar to other member-driven angel networks. “We currently have more than 30 members, including local angel groups, VCs and committed individuals, and look forward to continuing growing and scaling across Canada,” said a ventureLAB spokesperson.

The network anticipates making its first investment in the fall.

Matt Skynner, COO at ventureLAB, said: “The Hardware Angel Network is committed to supporting startups in their investor journey, and we look forward to playing a role in connecting them with unique industry leaders, hardware investors, academia, non-profit organizations and more.”

ventureLAB claims to have helped thousands of companies create over 5,000 jobs and raise more than $340 million in investment capital.

President and CEO Melissa Chee announced in late May her decision to step down, launching an external search process for a new leader. Chee did not disclose the reason for her departure.

During her tenure at ventureLAB, Chee was also one of the tech leaders who helped launch a national Semiconductor Council, which is mandated to make Canada a global hub for semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.

ventureLAB received a $2.5-million CAD investment from the Government of Ontario in April to establish a medtech stream within its Hardware Catalyst Initiative. According to ventureLAB, the funding will enable the tech hub “to support made-in-Ontario medical solutions and will strengthen Ontario’s medtech sector and technical capacity to fight COVID-19 and respond to future pandemics.”

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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