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Propelict Targets NL, $1B Company

PropelICT, the technology development organization that oversees the Launch36 accelerator, plans to expand into Newfoundland and Labrador within 18 months, and wants to support the growth of larger tech companies across the region.

The Moncton-based organization held its annual general meeting last night and outlined its expansion plans after 18 months that exceeded expectations. Propel ICT began Launch36 as a regional accelerator early in 2012 and so far it has graduated 18 companies that it says employ more than 70 people and have raised more than $7 million in equity financing.

Just two months ago, Propel said Launch36 alumni – which have come from all three Maritime Provinces – had raised $5 million, which indicates the traction some have been getting with investors lately.

In an interview ahead of the AGM, Executive Director Trevor MacAusland also said Propel hopes to graduate two cohorts of startups in the next year, and to graduate its first companies from Newfoundland by the end of 2014. The organization began as a New Brunswick group, then extended to other Maritime Provinces, and now hopes to cover Newfoundland and Labrador as well. It just named its first Nova Scotian board member, Tim Burke, the CEO of 26ones Inc. of Halifax.

“We are taking a pragmatic approach to Newfoundland,” said MacAusland, saying he wants to develop links by working with such groups as the Genesis Centre, the incubator at Memorial University. “Just like any market we look to enter, the goal is to support the local mentor network by finding areas where we could augment what already being done.”

Looking farther down the line, Propel ICT wants to join in a mission that is being discussed more frequently in the East Coast startup world – the goal to build a billion-dollar tech company in Atlantic Canada. MacAusland says the Propel network and its mentors want to help guide leading tech companies as they try to become large, global players.

“I personally believe that within the next 10 years we will see a billion-dollar tech company in the region and the only question remaining is, how do we get there?” said MacAusland. “Silicon Valley was conquered by those who moved forward and so will the Propel ICT network.”