Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Accolades for Toronto NanoTech Start-Up Continue

Congratulations to our client Vive Nano for receiving Frost & Sullivan’s 2010 North American Technology Innovation of the Year Award for its encapsulation technology to synthesize nanoparticles. During a week of local venture capital contraction, it's nice to be reminded why there are compelling reasons to be optimistic about our future as an innovation centre.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Immigrant Opportunities Fund

...Okay, there isn't one. But there should be. Here's why:

1. Regional venture capital has lost its appeal. If you ask any North American VC left standing(or bettter yet, their former limited partners), they will tell you that there is very little appetite for the classic venture capital model in any region outside Silicon Valley.

2. As traditional lps lose interest in general venture capital, new players are embracing purpose-driven opportunities. Regional funds focusing on investments that make the world better (clean water, social philanthropy, micro-entrepreneurs) in have particular done better in attracting investors.

3. Helping immigrants who are innovators prosper is not only part of our business history, it's great business today. There are only 33 million of us in Canada, and while we are all thinking as hard as we can, we lack a critical mass that would allow us to play a meaningful role in innovation (and attract meaningful investment) unless we grow our entrepreneurial base through acquisition. It won't do to wait for our base to grow organically, either. The only person ever to profit from natural evolution was Darwin.

4. Current global conditions seem to be creating a unique opportunity. Innovation clusters in places such as Israel and South Africa are finding themselves short of growth capital as US VCs close up shop and retreat. Our own tech entrepreneurs, many of whom have strong ties to both regions, may be able to leverage our proximity to the US with the US limit on work VISAs to attract and grow a larger pool of entrepreneurial talent.

5. A fund focused on investing in (and attracting) immigrant innovation may better leverage government money: there is a growing realization at all levels of government that job creation comes from emerging business, not established ones. Last weekend, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman quoted Robert Litan of the Kauffman Foundation: " Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less....That means that established firms created no net new jobs during that period." Government funding available for job creation in high growth industries makes Canada a compelling candidate for emerging immigrant businesses and is a compelling partner for any private fund investing in this sector.

6. Canada has only a few years at best before we lose the ability to carve out a leadership role in this niche: The need to attract and retain foreign students and entrepreneurs has reached mainstream discourse in the U.S. Right now it seems as if the failure of Congress to figure out how to pass any legislation is all that stands between it and immigration reform. It would be nice to lead, not follow.

Canada is replete with unspent fund of funds money, and business magnates with strong ties to their countries of origin - the ideal set of limited partners. Is there anyone who'll take on the task?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

So Far, April Really Is the Cruellest Month

Toronto, 4:45 a.m:
I am accepting some kind of award from former secretary of state Madeline Albright when the chirping starts. Somewhere, a bird bar has closed for the night and all the birds who didn't find a mate have headed to the park across the street to troll for action. Looking for Mr. Goodbird is happening right outside my window.

4:51 a.m:
I give up on sleep and go to my office to start today's blog post. My dog seems unusually excited about this week's entry. She starts roaming the house and I don't think anything of it until I hear her heading to the basement, which is her emergency rest stop when she is having intestinal distress.

4:53 a.m:
I love the smell of Pinesol in the morning.

5:11 a.m:
I let the dog in the backyard to complete any unfinished business. I can't see what she's doing. I hope she's not eating grass.

5:18 a.m:
Back at computer. A distant rumbling sounds from the main hall. She ate grass. I come downstair and step in dog vomit. Warm dog vomit.

5:19 a.m:
Pinesol also comes in lavendar scent and is safe for wooden floors. Why is no one else waking up? I exhume my buried hostility over husband's seeming inability to hear crying babies at night, too. Inconsiderate bastard.

5:38 a.m:
Starbucks instant coffee does NOT taste as good as a brewed pot. Tim Horton would never lie to me like this.

5:44 a.m:
Birds are beginning to sound needy and desperate. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. Haven't they heard of The Rules? Playing hard to get is more effective.

5:59 a.m:

I consider arming self with son's paintball gun and going hunting. Benefits outweighed by thought of Leila Boujnane's outrage. French people are awfully protective of birds when they are not stuffing them in cages and forcefeeding them so there will be foie gras for brunch.

Springtime is for insomniacs.