MaRS IAF and Ontario partner with private sector investors to launch new $100-million early stage investment fund
Leveraging tech ecosystem investment returns will expand access to seed and pre-seed capital for early-stage startups
TORONTO, Ontario, January 26, 2022 – MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (MaRS IAF) and the Ontario government announced today plans to unlock new value from a provincial seed fund that has made over 175 investments in startups over the past 14 years.
Alongside other institutional and entrepreneurial investors, the province will invest $25 million of its returns on past MaRS IAF investments back into Ontario’s VC ecosystem to help launch Graphite IAF IV (“Graphite”) The team has completed a first close of $77 million of the new private sector $100 million venture capital fund.
Leveraging this success with private capital from leading investors will extend the benefits of the province’s investment to more Ontarians and help local companies scale and compete globally.
Graphite will further support capital investments in Ontario tech startups and a key feature is that fund managers will be able to offer larger seed investments to early-stage and scaling companies with the most promise.
Together with this new Graphite stream, the IAF will continue to operate and support pre-seed and seed stage companies, helping to maintain a thriving pipeline of high-potential technology startups in Ontario.
Over the years, the IAF has managed the province’s seed-stage investments in Ontario’s early-stage companies with tremendous value and returns. It has helped grow standout Ontario companies like Mindbridge, ACTO, and Nicoya, creating more than 5,700 jobs and over $1.7 billion in follow-on investment.
MaRS IAF is part of the province’s plan to promote and develop the venture capital sector in Ontario so that high potential companies have access to the capital they need to grow, get to market and create long term, sustainable jobs.
“Ontario’s innovation ecosystem has never been more vibrant — we have the brightest minds, world-class postsecondary institutions, and a high-potential startup community that needs access to capital in order to grow,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “This new fund will inject at least $100 million into our early stage venture capital ecosystem and help to support domestic talent and businesses as they continue to contribute to Ontario’s economic recovery.”
“Seed stage financing for startups continues to be a critical need in Ontario,” said Lance Laking, General Partner of Graphite Ventures Inc. and former Managing Director, IAF. “We’re excited to leverage our proven track record into a new fund that supports the strategic interests of the province and the innovation ecosystem.”
“The innovation economy in the province has grown dramatically in the past decade,” said Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS Discovery District. “This new fund enables the province to reinvest gains from this sector back into Canadian companies with the goal of supporting the transformation of emerging companies into global category leaders that provide sustainable economic benefits to Ontario. A report issued by the IEC in November confirmed that ventures with Canadian VC funding are more likely to stay anchored in the country. Commercialization of our startups requires strong Canadian financing.”
“Canada’s tech ecosystem is booming now, but in order for us to continue to produce scaling companies that will grow our economy, we need to sustain the pipeline of seed-stage startups,” said Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO of OMERS. “We are thrilled to be a lead investor supporting an experienced team of VCs who will continue to drive the innovation cycle in Canada.”
MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world.
About Graphite Ventures
Graphite Ventures is an early stage “seeding for scale” venture capital firm based in Ontario. Founded in 2008, as MaRS IAF, we are one of Canada’s most active and consistent VC firms, investing in more than 170 companies over the past decade. We invest in early stage B2B SaaS, Fintech, Proptech, Digital Health and capital efficient hardware businesses. For more information, please visit graphitevc.com, email at email@example.com or follow @graphitevc on Twitter and LinkedIn.
MaRS Discovery District
Andrew Yates, Media Relations Director
Minister Fedeli’s Office
Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade