OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of OMERS, was started in late 2011 with the mandate of investing in technology, media, and telecom companies and offering financing ranging from $500,000 to $30 million.
“We are long-term, patient investors and we plan to support companies throughout their lifecycle,” said John Ruffolo, the company’s CEO.
Why is it so important to support innovation in Canada? According to Ruffolo, it’s about creating a future for our children. “I have two young kids and I have no interest in them working in an open-pit mine,” he said. “But, seriously, we have to ask: what does Canada stand for from a future perspective? We need to be an innovation leader, and right now it’s not looking very good.”
According to Ruffolo one of the greatest barriers in Canada is access to capital. “We’re not only looking to fund start-ups, we’re looking for the next RIM and Nortel.” With enough capital available, he said, Canadian entrepreneurs won’t be forced to leave the country for a bigger cheque.
With that in mind, OMERS Ventures has partnered with four other funds to help launch Extreme Startups, a new small-business accelerator program based in Toronto. The accelerator will invest in 30 startups over the next three years, accepting groups of five companies at a time, for three-month intensive Y Combinator-style programs.
“The chosen companies will receive up to $200,000 in funding and move into our downtown office space, where they’ll work around the clock to build out their product,” said managing director and chief connector Sunil Sharma. “The program is mentorship-heavy and we have a roster of the ‘who’s who’ of mentors and tech entrepreneurs on board.” Most of these startups will be Internet-based companies, focusing on Web, social, mobile, and SaaS, that can scale quickly globally and aren’t too capital intensive.
“Entrepreneurial activity in this country is tremendous; innovation has captured the passion of Canadians young and old,” Sharma said. “Our investors are committed to spanning the next generation of tech-focused companies.”
This piece is part of our on-going coverage of innovation in Canada. Please check out our big innovation contest at www.www.backbonemag.com/Startmeup
Thanks to our sponsors: Alpha Group, HP Canada, WCIT 2012, Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, Export Development Canada (EDC), RBC Capital Markets, Orion, Ryerson Digital Media Zone, BCTIA Centre4Growth, Ceridian Canada, Financial Technology Partners, OCE Discovery 12.
Hailey Eisen is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor and a Senior Writer with Backbone Magazine. Her work can be found online at www.haileyeisen.com. Follow her on Twitter @haileyeisen
Posted by Sue Ansell at March 1, 2012 1:15 PM
Categories: Business innovation Start Up Innovation Campaign