The two organizations issued a statement on Tuesday saying they hope the pilot project called the Investment Opportunities Program will attract $500,000 in angel investment to four startups, with an average of $125,000 each. The goal will then be to grow the project to attract more funding.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has provided $104,000 in funding for the pilot project, which has been allocated through ACOA’s Business Development Program, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises.
The long-term goal of the program is to increase early-stage funding for startups in Atlantic Canada. The number of new startups has been growing in recent years, and some observers worry that the pool of local angel capital is not keeping pace. The Investment Opportunities Program aims to correct this problem by working with high-potential companies to court investment from outside the region.
“This is an ongoing need in the region where we see so many startups created and needing early-stage support to validate their opportunity, then solid investment to get the opportunity built and scaled,” said Springboard Atlantic President and CEO Chris Mathis in the statement.
“Part of our mandate is to support the building of the regional ecosystem and to help industry be competitive. This work should help increase investment in the Atlantic region and increase national awareness for our growing number of regional start-ups.”
The pilot program will primarily focus on selecting 12 investment-ready startups, which will be trained and mentored on pitching to the investor group from outside the region.
Springboard and Invest Atlantic said they will work hand-in-hand with collaborative regional investors to assemble an ex-pat investment group – that is, a group of investors with links to Atlantic Canada who now live outside the region. They will create a secure online portal to promote investment opportunities in Atlantic Canada, with an initial target of $500,000.
The pilot program will include recruiting and training target companies, organizing a pitching mission to the Greater Toronto Area, and a follow-up evaluation for the 12 participating startups.
“This whole initiative was born out of conversations led by [East Valley Ventures Founder] Gerry Pond and other prominent Atlantic investors at past Invest Atlantic events,” said Bob Williamson, President and CEO of Jameson Group and founder of Invest Atlantic. “Gerry and I have helped hold regional and ex-pat conversations on this need, and are happy to be working with Springboard Atlantic to pilot the idea.”
Now 13 years old, Springboard Atlantic is a not-for-profit organization that promotes and coordinates the commercialization of research at Atlantic Canadian universities and colleges. The group has identified more than 30 startups coming from the Springboard network of public post-secondary institutions each year, with a record 82 in 2016.
Invest Atlantic is a conference for Atlantic Canadian startups and investors, which has taken place each year since 2009. The 2017 Invest Atlantic conference will take place in St. John’s on Sept. 19 and 20. You can register for the conference here.
Disclaimer: Springboard Atlantic and Invest Atlantic are both clients of Entrevestor.