May 1, 2020
In its first transatlantic venture vehicle, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (“OMERS”) has announced that it will be launching a new venture capital fund to invest in Canada, the US and Europe. The decision to launch the venture fund notwithstanding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic represents a vote of confidence for Canada’s start-up ecosystem.
The US$750M venture fund, which is the fifth fund launched by OMERS since the creation of its venture investing arm, will back early-stage technology companies in Canada, the US and Europe. OMERS expects to make investments of US$5M to $25M in individual start-ups, focusing on companies providing innovations in the insurance, banking, health care, property and workplace technology sectors. Overall, OMERS anticipates that it will invest close to one quarter of the fund (approximately US$180M) in Canada, forty percent in Europe and the remainder in the US. The new venture fund is being funded solely by OMERS.
In the coming weeks, OMERS is planning to announce investments in two as-yet unidentified Canadian start-ups, which will represent the first new Canadian venture investments OMERS has made in nearly two years. In the past, OMERS has invested in a variety of successful Canadian technology start-ups, including Shopify, Hootsuite, Wave Financial and Wattpad.
In response to a request for comment, OMERS’ managing partner and head of ventures Damien Steel said “[w]e want Canadian founders to think about us every time they’re raising money”.
Author: Duncan Lurie