BC launches 100M tech fund and announces first investment

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government’s $100-million BC Tech Fund, a key part of the #BCTECHStrategy, launched today with the announcement of a fund manager and an initial investmentin a B.C. technology company.

After a comprehensive proposal and assessment process involving 12 proponents, KensingtonCapital 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. techcompanies can grow their business,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation andCitizens’ Services. “I’m confident that Kensington will lead BC Tech Fund investments to goodreturns for the province and continue to grow B.C.’s tech sector. This agreement represents thebest deal for B.C. taxpayers; by investing in B.C. companies, the BC Tech Fund will drive jobcreation 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 conditionof the agreement, Kensington is establishing a Vancouver office. Dr. Gerri Sinclair, who has along history of supporting B.C.’s technology industry, will lead Kensington’s Vancouver officeand 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 Kensingtonteam’s extensive investing expertise across several platforms – we invest to achieve the bestpossible financial returns – and my own deep industry connections and market knowledge, welook forward to playing an even more important role in building out the emerging technologyecosystem in the province.”

As an active participant in the B.C. venture capital market, Kensington is attuned to potentialinvestments in B.C. companies – and as a result of its detailed due diligence, todayconfirmed the first investment from the BC Tech Fund with Mojio, the leading open platformfor 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 acritical time as the company is launching nationwide with a wireless carrier partner in theUnited 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 walkwhen it comes to fueling tech innovation across B.C.,” said Mojio’s CEO, Kenny Hawk. “Thisfunding will help us attract and retain top engineering talent and ensure we have the runway to Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services 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 newcapital.”

Investments will be targeted in the technology sector, including digital media, informationcommunications technology (ICT), life sciences/health care and clean technology. Over thelifetime of the agreement, BC Tech Fund investments in B.C. companies will help thosebusinesses create high-paying jobs for British Columbians and substantially increase theprovince’s technology footprint.

“By having access to new capital, B.C. tech companies will be able to invest in research anddevelopment, patent new technologies and expand production in order to reach new marketsand create jobs for British Columbians,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and SkillsTraining and Minister Responsible for Labour. “Technology is a critical part of our Jobs Plan anda major economic driver in British Columbia, currently employing 92,700 people.”

“Kensington has full responsibility for making investment decisions, but government willmeasure the success of the BC Tech Fund by the number of jobs it helps to create, the numberof 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 withstakeholders from all regions of the province on activities that will help grow B.C.’s venturecapital 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. RenaissanceCapital 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.’svibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. Along with the BC Tech Fund, the multi-year strategy includes programs to increase talentdevelopment and market access for technology companies that will drive innovation and jobcreation throughout the province.

    Quick Facts:

  • 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.

    To read the full news release, including the two backgrounders, click here.