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New Regional Venture Capital Fund

High-potential companies in Atlantic Canada now have more access to the funds they need to grow and compete in the international marketplace.

Build Ventures, a privately managed venture capital fund, launched today, May 14, and is actively seeking investment opportunities throughout the Atlantic provinces. The idea for a regional venture capital fund was brought forward in 2010 by Premier Darrell Dexter.

“Emerging Atlantic Canadian companies have had limited access to venture capital in the past,” said Premier Dexter. “As our economy starts to turn the corner, I believe if we help those companies take advantage of the opportunities on the horizon, it will be for the benefit of all Nova Scotians, and Atlantic Canadians.”

Patrick Keefe and Rob Barbara will manage the fund.

Mr. Keefe has more than 15 years of investment and entrepreneurial experience. He spent the last several years with Innovacorp, overseeing its early-stage venture capital activities.

Mr. Barbara is also a seasoned investment manager. Most recently, he spent 11 years with Burgundy Asset Management, a Toronto-based global investment management firm serving private clients, foundations, endowments, pensions and family offices.

“We’re really encouraged by the start-up activity we’ve been seeing in Atlantic Canada over the last few years,” said Mr. Keefe. “We look forward to backing, and then working closely with, the most promising entrepreneurs as they build game-changing companies.”

Nova Scotia’s $15-million commitment to the fund has been leveraged to $48.5 million. The other investors are New Brunswick ($15 million), Prince Edward Island ($2.5 million), BDC Venture Capital ($10 million), a Moncton-based private sector company, Technology Venture Corp. ($5 million), and the fund managers ($1 million). Build Ventures is looking to raise additional private sector investment in the coming months.

Headquartered in Halifax, Build Ventures will concentrate on making Series A investments. These are investments made in companies that are early stage yet have an established business model, a solid team, a large target market, and some revenue generation, and now need ramp-up capital. The focus will be on companies in information technology, clean technology, life sciences and other high-growth sectors. Build Ventures’ investments will be between $1 million and $5 million for each venture.

Reaction to the fund from the entrepreneurial community has been extremely positive.

“I know firsthand the impact early investors and venture capital has on a young company,” said Dr. Daniel Boyd, president and chief science officer of ABK Biomedical. “A private sector fund that targets early-stage investments is a critical ingredient for what’s next for this region.”

“The Business Development Bank of Canada is pleased to see Build Ventures getting off the ground. This fund will help finance Atlantic Canada’s most promising and innovative start-ups,” said Jean-René Halde, president and chief executive officer of BDC. “Our venture capital arm, BDC Venture Capital, has seen concrete examples of the region’s high tech potential recently with companies like Radian6 and Q1 Labs. The future certainly looks very promising.”