As we approach the halfway point of 2018, it may be time to take a look on how fundraising by Atlantic Canadian startups has gone in the first half of the year.

Quick answer: Really good.

I posted on the Entrevestor Facebook page a few weeks ago that I believed equity funding for 2018 was already approaching about $45 million to $50 million. As we coast toward the Canada Day weekend, I realize I have understated the figure. It’s probably closer to $60 or $70 million.

Check out what Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, or CVCA, said in its first-quarter venture capital data report, which it posted last month. (Go to Page 7 of this report) It’s showing a strong surge in investment in Atlantic Canadian funding.

CVCA Data on Atlantic Canadian VC Funding in Q1 2018
Province No. of Deals Value of Deals
NB 7 $7M
NL 4 $1M
NS 7 $38M
PEI 1 $1M
Total 19 $47M

Forty-seven million dollars.

Please remember, that this data applies only to the first quarter, and there are three things that put this performance into perspective. First, in the first quarter of 2017, there were 13 venture capital deals worth $8 million in Atlantic Canada. So we’ve had an improvement of almost 500 percent in one year. Second, the CVCA reported a total of $99 million in Atlantic Canadian VC deals for all of 2017, so we reached about half that level in the first quarter this year. And third, the CVCA said first-quarter VC funding in the Prairie Provinces amounted to six deals totaling $15 million. Piddly little Atlantic Canada tripled the funding of the Prairies.

It was the best quarter of VC investment ever in Atlantic Canada by a long-shot. The funding parade hasn’t slowed down noticeably in the second quarter. In May, Fredericton-based Resson announced it raised $14 million in funding, the largest deal announced publicly this year.

Just in the past week, we’ve reported two deals totaling $1.8 million: US$1 million (C$1.3 million) by Paradise, NL-based Acoustic Zoom;  and $500,000 by Fredericton-based Stash Energy.  We know of a few other deals in the works, which we’ll be reporting on soon.

Nailing down the specifics in the impressive funding deals in Nova Scotia in the first quarter won’t be easy. There were two announced deals in Halifax that are known to be significant but the amounts haven’t been publicly disclosed: Proposify raised money from investors John Risley and Brendan Paddick; and TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture received investment from McCain Foods.  There are two other major deals we’ve heard of, though the CEOs declined to discuss them.

It’s difficult to believe that 2018 won’t be a record year for equity funding in in the region. At Entrevestor, we’ve just finished analyzing our data for 2017 and found last year was a record year for funding. (We had a higher number than the $99 million reported by the CVCA, even though the national group included some New Brunswick deals that we weren’t told about.) 

When we surveyed Atlantic Canadian companies earlier this year, 95 of them told us they were working on funding rounds, and their total target was $134 million. Four companies were targeting rounds of $10 million. And we get survey responses from only about one-third of the total startup community in the region.

There are some big deals coming in this year.