The B.C. government’s $100-million BC Tech Fund, a key part of the #BCTECH Strategy, launched today with the announcement of a fund manager and an initial investment in a B.C. technology company.
After a comprehensive proposal and assessment process involving 12 proponents, Kensington Capital Partners has been selected as the successful firm to manage the BC Tech Fund.
“The BC Tech Fund will make more early-stage capital available in B.C. so that B.C. tech companies can grow their business,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services. “I'm confident that Kensington will lead BC Tech Fund investments to good returns for the province and continue to grow B.C.'s tech sector. This agreement represents the best deal for B.C. taxpayers; by investing in B.C. companies, the BC Tech Fund will drive job creation and help create the jobs of tomorrow."
Kensington has 20 years of experience, market credibility and strong connections to the B.C. tech sector, having invested more than $100 million here previous to this deal. As a condition of the agreement, Kensington is establishing a Vancouver office. Dr. Gerri Sinclair, who has a long history of supporting B.C.’s technology industry, will lead Kensington's Vancouver office and B.C. operations.
“We’re delighted that the B.C. government chose Kensington to manage the BC Tech Fund,” said Sinclair, managing director of Kensington Capital Partners. “Between the Kensington team’s extensive investing expertise across several platforms – we invest to achieve the best possible financial returns – and my own deep industry connections and market knowledge, we look forward to playing an even more important role in building out the emerging technology ecosystem in the province.”
As an active participant in the B.C. venture capital market, Kensington is attuned to potential investments in B.C. companies – and as a result of its detailed due diligence, today confirmed the first investment from the BC Tech Fund with Mojio, the leading open platform for connected cars, headquartered in Vancouver.
Mojio provides all the elements needed for enterprise customers to quickly launch secure, branded connected car apps and services all powered by Mojio. This funding fuels Mojio at a critical time as the company is launching nationwide with a wireless carrier partner in the United States and across Europe with its strategic investor, Deutsche Telekom.
“The BC Tech Fund is a great example of how the provincial government is walking the walk when it comes to fueling tech innovation across B.C.,” said Mojio’s CEO, Kenny Hawk. “This funding will help us attract and retain top engineering talent and ensure we have the runway to launch in prioritized international markets throughout 2017.”
“We believe in the future of B.C. technology companies, and we are committed to providing the capital needed to stimulate even more growth – that’s why 100% of the fund’s investments will benefit B.C.-based businesses,” said Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. “And beyond that, our $100-million investment has the potential to have an up to five-fold impact in B.C. by attracting new capital.”
Investments will be targeted in the technology sector, including digital media, information communications technology (ICT), life sciences/health care and clean technology. Over the lifetime of the agreement, BC Tech Fund investments in B.C. companies will help those businesses create high-paying jobs for British Columbians and substantially increase the province’s technology footprint.
“By having access to new capital, B.C. tech companies will be able to invest in research and development, patent new technologies and expand production in order to reach new markets and create jobs for British Columbians,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. “Technology is a critical part of our Jobs Plan and a major economic driver in British Columbia, currently employing 92,700 people.”
“Kensington has full responsibility for making investment decisions, but government will measure the success of the BC Tech Fund by the number of jobs it helps to create, the number of B.C. businesses it invests in, and the amount of funds leveraged,” said Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education.
All BC Tech Fund investments are made by Kensington. Kensington will also work with stakeholders from all regions of the province on activities that will help grow B.C.’s venture capital system. Specifically, Kensington will:
- Help create new venture capital funds in B.C. through ecosystem-building activities.
- Help attract investment into B.C. tech companies and B.C.-based venture capital funds.
- Help B.C. companies connect with strategic partners to help them grow their business.
- Help develop solutions for regional issues related to accessing venture capital.
Kensington will also manage the existing venture capital investments of the B.C. Renaissance Capital Fund, which has already helped create more than 1,000 jobs and attracted more than $350 million in investment into B.C. companies.
The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. Along with the BC Tech Fund, the multi-year strategy includes programs to increase talent development and market access for technology companies that will drive innovation and job creation throughout the province.
- Electronic Arts, Sierra Wireless, SAP BusinessObjects and Ballard Power Systems are all examples of B.C.-based companies that have used venture capital to grow their business and become global leaders in the tech sector.
- B.C. outperforms all other provinces in venture capital investment per capita, with $450 million invested in 2015.
- B.C.’s technology sector is growing faster than the overall economy. In 2014, it grew at a rate of 3.3%, a higher rate than the 2.9% growth observed in the provincial economy.
- The tech sector contributes $13.5 billion to B.C.’s gross domestic product and $25.8 billion in revenues.
- Technology companies employ more than 92,700 people with an average wage that is 75% higher than B.C.’s industrial average.
- There are more than 9,700 tech companies operating in B.C.
BC Tech Fund info: https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/bctech-fund/
BC Tech Fund procurement materials: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCTECHfund_doc_pkg.pdf
#BCTECH Strategy: https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
Jobs Plan Update: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/economy/progress-reports/
Two backgrounders follow.
Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services250 387-0172
General inquiries regarding the BC Tech Fund:Kensington Capital Partners
Kensington Capital Partners is the fund manager for the BC Tech Fund and a leading Canadian investment firm in alternative assets with over $1.1 billion invested to date in venture capital, private equity, hedge funds and infrastructure. Alongside the launch of the BC Tech Fund, Kensington is opening a new office in Vancouver to complement its current teams in Toronto and Calgary. Kensington’s new Vancouver office fulfills a longstanding strategic goal of the firm to expand upon a history of active investing in the province, with more than $100 million invested in B.C. over the past several years in companies like D-Wave and Bit Stew. For more information, visit www.kcpl.ca
Dr. Gerri Sinclair – Gerri Sinclair is a Kensington managing director and the leader of its Vancouver office, where she serves as a member of the firm’s investment team. Her career includes more than 25 years in the fields of Internet, mobile and digital media technologies, entrepreneurial business and government policy. She was the founder and CEO of NCompass Labs, the Internet digital content management company acquired by Microsoft in 2001. A former IBM consulting scholar as well as a visiting scientist at IBM Research in New York, she was also the first president of the Premier’s Technology Council in B.C. and the founding director of the ExCITE lab at Simon Fraser University, the first digital media technology research and development centre in Canada.
Sinclair has served on several government and corporate boards, and is the recipient of many awards in business, entrepreneurship, and technology innovation, including the Canadian Women in Communications Woman of the Year award, the Influential Woman in Business award, and the Sarah Kirke award for the Most Outstanding Canadian Woman in High Tech. Sinclair holds a Ph.D. in renaissance drama as well as an honorary doctor of science in computing science from the University of British Columbia.
Richard Nathan – Rick Nathan leads Kensington’s venture capital investment program as a managing director and member of the firm’s investment committee. His career spans many years across the private equity and venture market as an industry leader, investor and professional advisor. Nathan currently serves as an active board member of several companies within the Kensington venture portfolio and as a member of the investor advisory committee for several of Canada’s leading venture funds.
Nathan began his career as a corporate and securities lawyer at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP where he practiced law for 12 years, including as head of the firm’s Technology Business Group from 1995 to 1999. He entered the investment industry as a co-founding partner of Brightspark Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. Nathan served as president and chair of CVCA- Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association from 2005 to 2012 and was a founding co-chair of CIX-Canadian Innovation Exchange from 2008 to 2016. Nathan joined Kensington in 2005 and is a graduate of Dartmouth College (computer science) and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.
In January, the Province launched the #BCTECH Strategy, a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen B.C.’s diverse and innovative economy. The multi-year strategy includes 50 initiatives to increase capital, talent development and market access for tech companies. The full progress report can be found here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BC_Tech_Strategy_Update.pdf
- $100-million BC Tech Fund manager secured, Kensington Capital Partners, which announced its first investment in Mojio.
- More than $29.8 million awarded since January for new research, innovation and commercialization through the BC Knowledge Development Fund.
- $5-million tax credit increase added to the Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit Program for a total of $35 million, which leverages up to $116.6 million annually in investments for businesses.
- Coding implemented this school year for grades 6-9, which will be mandatory by 2018/19.
- $6 million invested in training and equipment for coding and the new K-12 curriculum.
- $1.3 million invested in co-op education, helping to increase tech-talent in B.C.
- $600,000 provided to the tech sector for customized labour-market information as part of the Sector Labour Market Partnership Program to ensure growth of the talent pool.
- Streamlined an online application system introduced for the Provincial Nominee Program, B.C.’s only direct immigrant selection tool to attract global talent. Processing times for applications in the Skills Immigration stream are among the best in the country.
- Export Navigator launched, a 12-month pilot in four B.C. communities to help companies find export markets.
- Supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, the BC Innovation Council started an agri-tech accelerator. BioEnterprise is a contract partner in that collaboration. Together, they are working on the growth and expansion of businesses in B.C.’s emerging Agritech sector.
- $6 million committed to the Okanagan Centre for Innovation.
- Facilitated 228 business-to-business meetings at the inaugural #BCTECH Summit; the second #BCTECH Summit will be March 14-15, 2017.