Calgary sets quarterly record for venture capital investment

Alberta attracted $466 million in investment in the first quarter of 2022, including $433 million in Calgary alone

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Calgary is poised to break all previous venture capital investment records in the city and province.

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Alberta attracted $466 million in investment in the first quarter of 2022, including $433 million in Calgary, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s Q1 report released Tuesday. In 2021, there were $561 million in venture capital investments in Alberta, including $500 million in Calgary.

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“We knew this would be an important quarter for the province of Alberta, but we did not expect so much activity so quickly in 2022,” said the Minister of Economy, Jobs and Tourism. ‘Innovation, Doug Schweitzer. “It’s really a testament to the growth of the industry and also the maturity of the industry in Alberta.”

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In 2020, the province had a record year of 12-month venture capital growth with investments of approximately $450 million.

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Kim Furlong, CEO of CVCA, acknowledged that investments made by the province years ago have made Alberta’s risk-tolerant environment more attractive to startups and investors.

Numbers have risen across the board due to record investment in Canada, but Calgary is starting to take a bigger slice of the pie. Calgary is still behind Toronto ($2.19 billion), Montreal ($928 million) and Vancouver ($454 million) in total dollars, but is closing the gap, especially in Western Canada.

Over the past few years, Calgary has seen rapid growth in the startup and venture capital investment sector, setting records every year.

Brett Colvin, CEO of Calgary startup Goodlawyer, said there has been a sea change in the approach to the industry. When he initially considered starting his business, he considered Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, but three years ago the environment began to change in his hometown.

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He added that successes such as Neo Financial, Benevity, Solium Capital and others will only contribute to the growth of the sector.

“There’s this palpable energy within government, business and the wider community that startups and technology will be key drivers of our city’s future and long-term success,” he said. “Fundamentally, attitudes have changed and the opportunity — which a lot of people seem to agree with — for our city’s long-term success lies in startups, lies in technology. It’s an amazing time to be a startup founder in Calgary.

Still, he would like to see the return of the Alberta Investor Tax Credit, which he said was essential to start-up investments in his business. The credit was phased out by the government from 2019.

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Schweitzer pointed to other initiatives the province has leaned on to spur growth, acting on advice from the Innovation Capital Task Force. These measures include the injection of $175 million into the Alberta Enterprise Corp. to increase liquidity in the sector and attract outside investment, efforts to improve the talent pool and improve mentorship through acceleration projects.

Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

Edmonton received just $18 million in venture capital investments in the first quarter. Schweitzer said Calgary began its quest for those dollars and startups before the provincial capital. He pointed to organizations such as Calgary Economic Development pushing this mission, noting that Innovate Edmonton is trying to do the same.

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Furlong, however, warned that there were signs of a potential slowdown in the coming quarters due to factors such as inflation and wage pressures, geopolitical pressures including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and an overheated market. She said it was important that people continue to push for the growth of the sector.

“Let’s celebrate the success we’ve seen,” she said. “No matter what’s on the horizon, let’s stay the course, because the types of businesses and what they produce — jobs, exports — the talent they attract, all of this put together is essential to thinking about the how we will transform Canada into an innovative economy”.

[email protected]

Twitter: @JoshAldrich03

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