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Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative

Overview

As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, a priority of the Government of Canada is to put Canada's economy on a stronger footing, both for Canadians today and future generations. Innovation is the path to inclusive growth. It fosters a thriving middle class and opens the country to new economic, social and environmental possibilities.

As part of Budget 2021, the Government is making historic investments to support Canadian entrepreneurs in their efforts to start up, scale up, and become the next generation of Canadian anchor companies. Specifically, new funding for the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI) will build on earlier investments to ensure Canadian businesses continue to enjoy access to a globally competitive venture capital ecosystem capable of nurturing entrepreneurial talent and creating high-quality, middle-class jobs.

Venture capital (VC) is a specialized type of equity financing that takes educated risks on great ideas and talented people by investing capital in young, high growth-potential companies to give them the opportunity to develop their ideas into marketable products. Canada's VC ecosystem has experienced considerable growth in recent years with 2021 setting a new record in total investment, $14.7 billion of VC investment in Canadian start-ups. As a result, Canada is now ranked third for VC investment according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) attributes much of this growth to the Government of Canada's support for VC, including through the Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP) and earlier investments made under the VCCI (Budget 2017).

The renewed Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative

Building on the momentum of these investment, the Government's renewed commitment to the VCCI will help increase the availability of capital for Canada's high-potential innovative firms, including those in the life sciences sector and for entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, such as women and racialized communities. This will be accomplished through the introduction of three new streams under VCCI:

  • Funds-of-funds stream investing up to $350 million in funds-of-funds;
  • Life sciences stream investing up to $50 million in VC funds primarily focused on investing in high-growth potential technology companies Canada's life sciences sector; and,
  • Inclusive growth stream investing up to $50 million to support increased access to VC for underrepresented groups, such as women and racialized communities.

Detailed information on the submission process can be found in the Call for Expression of Interest package below.

In addition, the Government will establish a private sector Selection Committee to evaluate incoming proposals and provide recommendations to the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) on which applicants to select for the renewed VCCI. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply. Details are provided below.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in Canadian venture capital

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to encourage the Canadian VC industry to be representative of the Canadian population. According to recent research from the CVCA and Diversio, traditionally underrepresented groups face challenges in the VC industry: they make up a minority of the investors, and entrepreneurs from these demographic groups are less likely to seek equity financing and when they do, they are more likely to be turned down or to receive relatively less money for their businesses.

The renewed VCCI follows on a tradition of demonstrating global leadership in DEI in VC. The VCCI introduced in Budget 2017 included a strong focus on supporting gender balance. The renewed VCCI goes further by introducing an inclusive growth stream to support access to VC for traditionally underrepresented groups, particularly women and racialized communities. It further expands this commitment through an Inclusive Growth Framework that will apply to all renewed VCCI streams and requires all applicants to collect gender and diversity metrics, as well as implement policies and practices that promote DEI principles internally, in building their portfolios and in the broader VC ecosystem.

Call for Expression of Interest

The Call for Expressions of Interest is now open and accepting applications for all three streams.

Through the renewed VCCI, the Government is seeking to build a portfolio of funds-of-funds and VC funds that strengthen and broaden the Canadian VC ecosystem while increasing the availability of VC and advancing DEI in the ecosystem.

Applicants will be evaluated on a number of factors based on the stream for which they apply, including investment strategy, management capabilities, fundraising strategy, DEI strategies, and overall impact on the Canadian VC ecosystem. All applicants will also be expected to meet minimum thresholds of Canadian presence and investment levels, and to adhere to a detailed code of conduct and reporting requirements, including a focus on gender and diversity.

Applications must be received by:

  • 5:00 p.m. PT on June 23, 2022 for the funds-of-funds stream,
  • 5:00 p.m. PT on September 7, 2022 for the life sciences stream,
  • 5:00 p.m. PT on November 30, 2022 for the first round of the inclusive growth stream, and
  • 5:00 p.m. PT on June 2, 2023 for the second round of the inclusive growth stream.

Detailed instructions on the application, submission and selection process can be found in the VCCI Call for Expressions. Additional information regarding the program's reporting metrics is available in the accompanying renewed VCCI Performance Measurement Framework.

The Government of Canada is committed to providing a fair application, evaluation, and selection process, including for applicants that may face accessibility barriers. Should an applicant require any type of accommodation or have questions about the access provided during the application, evaluation, and selection process, please contact the VCCI Secretariat (capital@ised-isde.gc.ca) at least two weeks in advance of the application deadline.

Selection Committee

The Government is currently seeking applications from diverse and talented Canadians who are interested in participating in the renewed VCCI Selection Committee.

The chair and members of the Selection Committee, supported by ISED and BDC officials, will evaluate incoming expressions of interest and provide recommendations to the Deputy Minister of ISED on which applicants to select for the renewed VCCI. Members of the Committee will act on a part-time, volunteer basis. The term of this commitment is expected to begin in June 2022 and will continue into 2023. Committee members may be asked to serve for all or some streams of the renewed VCCI.

Further details on the application process and requirements can be found in the Departmental Appointment Opportunities. All applicants will be screened to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. 

Candidates are asked to send a résumé and cover letter addressed to the Deputy Minister of ISED by 5 p.m. PT on June 9, 2022 to the following email address: capital@ised-isde.gc.ca.

VCCI 2017

Introduced in Budget 2017 and expanded in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Canada invested $371 million through three streams. VCCI Stream 1 invested in large funds-of-funds that will support Canadian VC fund managers, while VCCI Stream 2 invested in emerging and diverse managers, underserved regions and sectors, and alternative fund structures. VCCI Stream 3 invested in VC funds investing primarily in clean technology firms.

One of the objectives of VCCI is to improve gender balance among Canadian VC fund managers and companies. As part of their submissions, applicants under all streams were required to submit gender balance strategies demonstrating how they will enhance diversity and increase the participation of women across the VC ecosystem. All recipients will be required to report on statistics relating to the number of women fund managers and entrepreneurs supported.

VCCI has leveraged private sector and other capital to inject a total of over $1.8 billion into the VC marketplace, growing Canadian companies and supporting thousands of middle class jobs. More information on these streams can be found at VCCI 2017.

Performance Measurement

The purpose of this performance measurement framework (PMF) is to outline the metrics that will be used to evaluate the performance of VCCI in delivering on its objectives and outcomes. ISED is committed to releasing annual reports based on the performance metrics.

Related links

Contact

If you are interested in learning more about the VCCI program, please contact the VCCI Secretariat at capital@ised-isde.gc.ca.

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