Creating jobs and building an economy for Manitoba's next generations gets a kick-start today with the appointment of the inaugural board of the province's Venture Capital Fund (VCF).
The five highly accomplished business leaders named to lead the VCF, an independent, professionally managed fund that will be instrumental in helping Manitoba-focused businesses grow and thrive, were welcomed by Premier Heather Stefanson and Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen.
“Today our government takes a major step toward restoring hope and opportunity to young Manitobans who dream of creating and growing a new business in Manitoba,” said Stefanson. “For 17 years, the previous administration ignored the venture capital drought in Manitoba and a generation of young Manitoba entrepreneurs were faced with a terrible choice: give up your dreams, or move to another province or country to pursue them. The result was a lost generation of gifted Manitobans who left the province. That drought ends permanently today.”
The VCF was established with a $50-million government investment, as part of Budget 2022's focus on building the economy, and will partner with private-sector capital to substantially expand the breadth of capital available for Manitoba-focused businesses. This initial $50-million injection of capital into the fund is slated to grow to $150 million over the next several years, creating even more opportunities for business owners with big ambitions, the premier noted.
The individuals appointed to the VCF board are:
- chair – Mike Pyle, CEO, Exchange Income Corporation (appointed by the Business Council of Manitoba);
- Marshall Ring, CEO, Manitoba Technology Accelerator (appointed by the Manitoba Technology Accelerator);
- Ray Bouchard, CEO, Enns Brothers (appointed by the Manitoba government); and
- Barb Gamey, chancellor, University of Winnipeg (appointed by the Manitoba government); and
- Steve Kroft, president, Falcon Capital Corporation (appointed by the Business Council of Manitoba).
“I am very excited to chair the Venture Capital Fund, which will help address capital availability to these companies which has not always been readily available in the past without leaving Manitoba,” said Pyle. “Capital is the fuel for successful growing businesses and the Manitoba government's investment, alongside private equity, will enable powerful new businesses and rapidly growing companies to stay in our province, create good jobs and increase our tax base.”
Additionally, as part of Budget 2022, the Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit has been made permanent. This tax credit provides a non-refundable Manitoba tax credit of up to 45 per cent to individuals and corporations who acquire equity capital in eligible Manitoba enterprises, Stefanson noted.
“The new Venture Capital Fund the Manitoba government has introduced fills a major gap in the financial ecosystem for startup companies in Manitoba and provides an additional level of security to ensure that businesses are able to continue to grow within Manitoba rather than be forced, due to capital needs, to move elsewhere,” said Earl Gardiner, co-founder and board member, Cerebra. “In Cerebra’s case, the innovation and desire started here in Manitoba with initial funding provided by the inventor. Accessing and utilizing the Manitoba government's Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit program mobilized seed money from Manitoba investors, giving us the resources needed to get our products market ready and enter the early stages of commercialization. Now with the creation of Manitoba-based venture capital funding to the ecosystem, companies like ours can more broadly and quickly scale our organizations, while ensuring we can keep Manitoba as our home base, creating good paying jobs for future generations.”
Access to capital allows new businesses to start and existing businesses to grow and invest, which fuels strong, sustained economic growth throughout the province, Stefanson noted.
“We expect the Venture Capital Fund to act as a catalyst to attract proven venture capital funds and managers as well as additional capital to Manitoba. Manitoba companies need access to early stage and growth equity funding to start and grow while remaining in the province,” said Cullen. “This fund and fund ecosystem it will help create will spark the creation of new, entrepreneur-led businesses that will fuel provincewide economic growth that supports the rural, urban and northern Manitoba economies.”
The fund will complement Manitoba's existing range of strategic economic program investments, including the Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit, the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and the Innovation Growth Program, Stefanson added.
News source: Manitoba government