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National Angel Capital Organization expands programme across Canada

As the demand for greater connectivity between urban areas and emerging start-up ecosystems continue to grow, the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) has embarked on expanding its offering across the provinces of Canada.

The organisation is currently expanding its investor education programmes in Atlantic Canada while collaborating with regional angel groups and innovation hubs on developing new programmes.

Come spring, the Canadian industry association for angel investors will launch a Western Canada regional headquarters in Calgary, Alberta.

Speaking on the growth of the organisation, CEO of NACO Claudio Rojas, explained, “Expanding angel activity will allow emerging ecosystems, including Western Canada, to successfully diversify their economies, promote inclusive economic prosperity, and benefit from growth in the innovation sector.

Claudio Rojas, CEO at NACO and Mary Long-Irwin, Executive Director of Northern Ontario Angels. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Enhancing national connectivity benefits entrepreneurs in all communities and regions across the country. Urban centres have an important role to play in flowing investment into non-urban communities.”

New programmes in Altlantic Canada

In Atlantic Canada, NACO will deliver new programmes throughout the region, including offering NACO Academy. Moreover, the organisation has planned a series of roundtables with key stakeholders to help establish a regional angel network and a vital support system for entrepreneurs.

In the Northern Ontario area, a leading angel investment ecosystem in North America, angel investors have disbursed CN$132 million to entrepreneurial Canadian companies.

Notwithstanding, NACO acknowledges playing a greater role in Ontario as the province has cut back budgetary spend on early-stage innovation. The organisation is working alongside regional angel groups to ensure the sustainability of investment activity.

“This is important because angel groups attract and channel investment into ventures that will have a positive impact on Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” NACO explained.

Unlocking Alberta

According to NACO, entrepreneurs across Canada “hav successfully activated deep pools of angel capital” amounting to CN$6.9 billion. And in the province of Alberta, entrepreneurs have unlocked some CN$821 million.

“NACO’s expansion into Calgary recognises Alberta as an emerging source of early-stage capital for Canadian entrepreneurs. NACO’s data findings indicates that Western Canada has significant untapped pools of capital. In global rankings, Startup Genome’s 2019 Report listed Calgary and Edmonton as ecosystems that are in the early stages of emergence,” the organisation outlined.

NACO further states that Vancouver is one of the top-30 start-up ecosystems in the world, despite needing to close the gap in early-stage funding.

To this end, physicians affiliated with Toronto-based HaloHealth have invested in Vancouver-based medical start-up, CareTeam. Founded by Dr Alexandra Greenhill, and recently inducted into NACO’s national network, HaloHealth teamed up with Montreal-based BCF Ventures to capitalise CareTeam’s AI-enabled digital health platform.

Stakeholders from HaloHealth and CareTeam pose for a photo op with Canada’s Minister of Innovation Science and Industry. (Photo Twitter @Claudio Rojas)

Urban centres, innovation hubs must play a role

With deals such as the one between HaloHealth and CareTeam, Halo believes that angel investors in urban centres have a significant role to play in ensuring the sustainability of funding.

“Entrepreneurs in all parts of the country benefit from national connectivity between angel investors in other regions, as this attracts greater levels of investment into high potential entrepreneurs,” NACO said.

Similarly, the organisation says that Canada’s leading innovation hubs also play a critical role in bridging connections between angel investors and entrepreneurs.

One example of this is the new Investment Readiness Program NACO has piloted with Ryerson University, which is an education and mentoring platform.

An artist’s impression of Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Innovation
(Photo: Ryerson University)

By building programmes and creating platforms to support its more than 40 angel groups, NACO aims to equip start-up networks with the operational tools and educational resources they need to access “inclusive capital” from angel investors.

“NACO’s expanded programming, which includes the newly launched Built By Angels events, is consistent with NACO’s mission to support the vibrancy of angel activity in Canada by ensuring that Canadian entrepreneurs have access to capital across the entire funding continuum.”