The Venture Newfoundland and Labrador Fund, the new public-private investment body that will provide seed financing in the province, has announced its first close and should make its first investment within three weeks.
Pelorus Venture Capital Ltd., the subsidiary of GrowthWorks Atlantic that will manage the fund, said Tuesday that the contributions by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, BDC Capital and Pelorus itself have all closed. Pelorus is talking to some institutions and potential angel investors about coming into the fund. It is working with the Newfoundland and Labrador Angel Network to bring angels into the fund. Pelorus anticipates the Venture NL Fund will be worth $15 million to $20 million by the final close.
“We are very excited to move to this next phase as we start to assess investment opportunities on behalf of the fund,” Tom Hayes, Managing Director of Pelorus, said in a statement. “At the same time, we are now introducing the fund to the local angel community who will benefit from a 30 percent non-refundable tax credit provided by the province when they invest in the fund.”
The provincial government announced last year that it wanted to establish a local, privately managed fund that would combine public and private money to invest in startups in the province. The government has invested $10 million in the fund, while BDC Capital has contributed $2 million. Pelorus’ contribution will amount to 2 percent of the total raise.
GrowthWorks itself has three portfolio companies in St. John’s -- Virtual Marine Technologies, adfinitum Networks and ClearRisk – so the managers have experience with companies in the province.
“We have three portfolio companies here in the GrowthWorks Atlantic portfolio,” said Hayes in an intreview. “We’re very pleased with what we’ve seen in the GrowthWorks fund here and the ecosystem we think has improved.”
GrowthWorks Atlantic, meanwhile, is no longer accepting funds as the Canadian government has wound down the regulations governing labour-sponsored funds. Hayes said the fund is still managing its portfolio of about 20 companies.
Chris Moyer, an investment manager for GrowthWorks Atlantic and Pelorus, will be the point man in St. John’s and will be in the city on a weekly basis. He will work out of the Common Ground co-working space.
Hayes said the Venture NL Fund model is encouraging because it brings together private and public backers to support young companies.
“We’re quite pleased with the conversation we’ve had with the potential investors,” he said. “There’s quite a good buzz here. And this is a model I’d like to see moved out beyond Newfoundland, and l realize we need to take it one step at a time.”