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Invest Atlantic Focuses On Funding

Tickets are now available for the sixth annual Invest Atlantic conference, which will focus on how to attract investment to Atlantic Canadian startups from beyond the region.

The conference, which will take place September 29 and 30 at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, will feature some of the region’s leading business people, and investors from inside and outside Atlantic Canada.

“[We’re focusing on] new ideas for sourcing angel-type funds”, said Invest Atlantic founder Bob Williamson in an interview. “We’re bringing new angels to the region to talk and also discovering what many of our startups have to showcase.”

Williamson began Invest Atlantic in 2010 as a forum for investors and entrepreneurs from across the region to meet, network and discuss ways to improve the ecosystem. In recent years, the event has included a pitching competition on the first day of the conference. It offers entrepreneurs some coaching and a chance to deliver a 60-second pitch to a panel of judges in front of an audience that includes potential angel investors.

The contestants receive valuable feedback while drawing attention to the region from external investors.

The chair for the 2015 conference is Nancy Mathis, the founding Executive Director of the Wallace McCain Institute at the University of New Brunswick. She hopes to expand upon Invest Atlantic’s traditional focus on early stage startups in the pitching competition and include more developed businesses as well.

“In accepting to chair, I wanted to tweak the design to move beyond start-ups,” said Mathis. “This year there are three streams.”

The first stream is for startups seeking money, the second for growth-stage companies looking for partners and the third for late-stage companies looking for successors or acquisition.

Mathis hopes that the interaction between different streams of entrepreneurs will add more depth to the event. For example, a Stream 3 entrepreneur might invest in a Stream 1 startup.

Williamson said the main conference will focus on ideas that will help to channel money into the Atlantic Canadian startup community from outside the region.

The speakers include Catherine Mott, past Chair of the Angel Capital Association and the founder and CEO of BlueTree Allied Angels, located in Wexford, PA. Williamson plans to soon announce more investors from outside the region who will also speak.

Francis McGuire, the CEO of Moncton-based Major Drilling Group International, will also speak at the conference. And Clearwater Seafoods Chairman John Risley and East Valley Ventures Chairman Gerry Pond will sit down for a lunchtime discussion on how to draw more investment to the region.

Applications for opportunities to pitch are open until Aug. 31. More details can be found at the Invest Atlantic website www.investatlantic.ca.