The Ontario Venture Capital Fund and others

John Marshall, president and CEO of the Ontario Growth Corporation, would like to get rid of the stereotype of lazy pubic servants and instead build up Ontario’s economy.

“What you expect is that we tax and spend,” he said, speaking at the Ottawa Venture and Technology Summit. “Lets be a catalyst and build something instead.”

This is the goal of the Ontario Growth Corporation, an agency of the Ministry of Research and Technology established in 2007 to manage the Ontario Venture Capital Fund and operate the Ontario Emerging Technologies fund.

While the Government of Ontario may now be in the venture capital business, Marshall said he’d rather not hear from start-up founders.

Both funds are specifically co-investment and start-ups looking to gain funding from the provincial government must already have at least one other investor secured.

In the case of Ontario Venture Capital Fund, start-up hopefuls can apply the fund’s partner investors like TD Bank Financial Group, RBC or Manulife Financial among others and receive additional funding from the province.

With the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund, the province will co-invest alongside “private sector investors who make market driven investment decisions.”

Marshall stressed that the funding is market based and the government has no interest in trying to pick winners and losers, instead relying on private sector investors to make those calls. 

He also said they will stay out of start-ups business as much as they can.

“We’re going to be more of an observer unless we need to vote as a shareholder,” he said.

However, they are a few qualifications beyond lining up an investor before funding can be approved.

Specifically, it must be an Ontario-based company. If a company relocates out of the province after receiving funding, the province’s shares must be bought out.

“It’s the only term in the guideline that’s non-market,” said Marshall.

For more information, check out the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation web site.