The Nova Scotian government is contributing $5 million to Sandpiper Ventures, the first venture capital fund of the Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund.

The investment from the provincial government, announced on Friday, is a key step in the Women’s Venture Fund’s mission to launch a $20 million early-stage fund to invest in women led businesses, mainly in Atlantic Canada. Sandpiper expects to launch the fund and announce its first investments this year.

The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund – a regional group that supports female investors backing female-led businesses – started Sandpiper Ventures in May. The AWVF is the overall body responsible for promoting female entrepreneurship and educating women angels, and Sandpiper will be its first investment fund.

“Sandpiper is driven by the need to bring more women and diversity to the venture capital ecosystem,” said Sandpiper Founding and Managing Partner Rhiannon Davies in a statement. “This investment by the province will attract additional capital to the fund and to the region from across the country. Sandpiper invests in women building ground-breaking technology companies, enabling innovative entrepreneurship and equitable growth opportunities.”

“If our daughters have an idea, there should be resources available to them, just as it is to our sons,” added Premier Stephen McNeil. “We know the pandemic has led to a decline in women’s employment, at a time when we need more women entrepreneurs. Sandpiper Ventures will help women take their innovative ideas to market.”

In November, the provincial government announced a new Venture Capital Tax Credit, which will provide investors in VC funds like Sandpiper a tax credit of 20 percent of an investment in a fund.  The maximum eligible investment is $500,000.

Sandpiper is the third private VC fund the Nova Scotia government has invested in. It has backed Funds 1 and 2 of the growth-stage fund Build Ventures and the initial fund of early-stage financing group Concrete Ventures.

In other financing news, Halifax entrepreneur Michael Brown and a partner in Singapore have launched Longshot Capital, an international early-stage fund that plans to make about 20 investments alongside other co-investors. The Longshot website names Brown (CEO of the janitorial software company Swept) as a partner in Canada and Jonathan Sobey as a partner in Singapore.

“We planned on launching a fund in a few years, but 2020 created a lot of entrepreneurs who need early-stage capital – they are not waiting for the ‘right time’ and neither are we,” said Brown in a social media post.