Government capital fund a real Dragons’ Den

By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh 
Dialog Reporter

Venture capitalists are on the prowl in Canada scouting for entrepreneurs with good innovative business ideas. It has to be seen if this initiative from the Ontario government proves to be a hit like the CBC reality show Dragons’ Den.

Job growth and employment are a focus of the federal and provincial governments at the moment. With the federal budget having provisions for creating job opportunities through job grants, Ontario has come up with its own venture capital fund.

The Ontario Venture Capital Fund (OVCF) is a joint initiative between the government of Ontario and leading institutional investors such as TD bank, OMERS Strategic Investments, RBC, Manulife Financial, and Business Development Bank of Canada. 

The OVCF will help finance emerging companies and support entrepreneurs for business startups. The Ontario government will contribute up to $50 million to the new fund and it is expected to touch $300 million with the participation of private investors over time. 

This fund is part of the government’s plan towards creation of new jobs, encouraging competitive business structure, attracting investments, and supporting innovation to push the economy further.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said, “For Ontario companies to compete on the world stage, our entrepreneurs need access to capital. Our new venture capital fund will help unlock more financing opportunities for these emerging startups, creating the next wave of Ontario-made innovations and Ontario-based jobs.” 

John Marshall, president and CEO of the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation said, “We are not funding entrepreneurs directly; this is a fund of funds where we are creating a pool of capital which is going to invest primarily in venture capital funds and companies. This is a market driven, returns based fund. It is a long term investment where we are trying to build a globally competitive venture capital industry that can attract and maintain the investor confidence of banks and other financial institutions to continue to reinvest here in Ontario.”

Not everyone wins an investment in the Dragons’ Den. While the Ontario government is supporting entrepreneurs through this fund, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has its own plans. The CIC has stopped accepting applications under the immigrant investor program since July 2012 and the federal entrepreneur program since July 2011. Both these programs are under review 

 “Immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial government, said Laura Sylvis, communications coordinator for Ontario’s Ministry Of Citizenship and Immigration. “We try to work with the federal government on issues of immigration.”

According to CIC, the immigrant investor and entrepreneur program seeks to attract experienced business people to contribute to Canada’s growth by making a sizable investment into the economy and supporting people who will own and actively manage businesses in Canada that will create jobs.

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Government capital fund a real Dragons’ Den