18
Mar

Venture capital funding flat in 2018, but industry players say investment ecosystem is strong

A total of $3.7 billion in venture capital was dispersed to Canadian companies in 2018, according to a report by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.

While the number marked a two per cent decline from 2017, Kim Furlong, CEO of the CVCA was still calling it a win.

2017 was just like a home run, so 2018 is a continuation of that growth trajectory

Kim Furlong, CEO of the CVCA

“This report signals that there’s maturity in the system. We saw an amazing year in 2017 — the best year we’d had to date in growth, in seven consecutive years,” she said. “2017 was just like a home run, so 2018 is a continuation of that growth trajectory.”

The numbers in the CVCA report offer a glimpse into the shape of startup funding across Canada, especially in the information and communication technology sector which accounted for more than two thirds of VC dollars and deals.

Toronto tops deals, followed by Montreal and Vancouver

Toronto is far and away the centre of gravity, with 197 venture capital deals happening in the city, and more than $1.5 billion invested in 2018. Montreal was the second busiest spot in Canada for startup investment, with 119 deals totalling $901 million, and Vancouver was third, with 71 deals totalling $400 million.

Governments are a big part of venture capital funding in Canada

The CVCA report also makes it clear that governments are a big part of venture capital funding in Canada. Scanning down the list of the top 10 most active venture capital firms, the federal Business Development Corporation appears twice on the list — both as an overall funder, and separately as an investor through several sector-specific funds — and government entities like the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and the MaRS Innovation Accelerator Fund appear on the list.

The venture capital sector has also received help from government through programs like the federal Venture Capital Action Plan and the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative — each worth $400 million.

Rick Nathan, who leads the venture capital program at Kensington Capital Partners — one of the recipients of VCCI investment — said the government money has leveraged a lot more private capital.

“They’re important from a stimulative impact on the market as a whole,” he said.

“Every government in the world where there is a technology industry has a very active role — including the United States which has more government support for its venture capital industry than any other country in the world. But if you look at Israel, if you look at Europe, if you look across Asia, it is an important feature of any market where there is a budding tech sector.”

70% of venture capital deals in 2018 were valued at less than $5 million

The biggest publicly disclosed venture capital deal of the year was $161 million in late-stage funding which went to Assent Compliance Inc, a supply chain data management company based in Ottawa.

Quebec-based Hopper Inc. and Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc. also scored late-stage investment rounds valued at more than $100 million.

But according to the CVCA data, 70 per cent of venture capital deals in 2018 were much smaller, valued at less than $5 million.

In aggregate, Nathan said the numbers reflect investor confidence in Canada’s startup sector. He pointed to the initial public offering by Montreal-based Lightspeed POS as the latest example of a successful startup exit.

“We had the Lightspeed IPO a week ago, which is a great story. It’s a fabulous company. But it’s just kind of the next one on the list,” Nathan said.

“We probably have about 20 companies across the country that are in the half a billion to one billion valuation range.”

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    AI STARTUP RUBIKLOUD TO BE ACQUIRED BY OTTAWA-BASED KINAXIS FOR $81.4 MILLION CAD

    OTTAWA, ON, June 15, 2020 – Kinaxis® Inc. (TSX: KXS), the authority in driving agility for fast, confident decision-making in an unpredictable world, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Toronto-based Rubikloud, a disruptive, emerging provider of AI solutions that automate supply chain prescriptive analytics and decision-making in the retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries.

    Globally-recognized retailers and CPG manufacturers in the health and beauty, household and grocery segments use Rubikloud’s AI-based products today. Their offerings include demand forecasting and automation to manage and optimize trade promotions, pricing and assortment to drive product demand and dramatically improve financial results. Kinaxis will enhance RapidResponse’s demand planning capabilities with the Rubikloud offerings, anticipating initial opportunities in the company’s rapidly-growing CPG customer base and over time for other industries such as life sciences. The acquisition also offers Kinaxis a springboard into the enterprise retail industry.

    “Rubikloud has capabilities and value that we can offer our CPG customers today, leads us into the retail industry with some bellwether accounts, and adds a group of approximately 80 people to an already-impressive AI and machine learning (ML) team here at Kinaxis. Over time, this enhanced group will contribute to new and existing AI-powered capabilities across the full Kinaxis RapidResponse® platform and applications,” said John Sicard, President and CEO of Kinaxis. “This acquisition reflects the growing importance of AI and ML to power intelligent automation and augment human decision-making to better deliver on customer promises, remove waste and increase resiliency for effective risk management.”

    Rubikloud’s SaaS-based ML offerings empower retail and CPG manufacturers to transform their core operations by improving and automating complex, profit-generating decisions. Rubikloud’s proven AI capabilities and intuitive tools enable users to leverage disparate data sources to improve forecast accuracy, site-level allocations, inventory availability and promotion plans by allowing users to run boundless simulations in real time.

    “We founded Rubikloud with the belief that purpose-built AI could be used to solve some of the most complex industry problems and we have spent the last seven years building a fantastic product that receives validation from global customers every day,” said Kerry Liu, CEO, Rubikloud. “We’re excited at the prospect of joining Kinaxis, which helps us bring our innovations to a much broader customer base at a faster pace than on our own. Not only that, being two strong Canadian companies we see great cultural synergy and look forward to working on the complex problems we know RapidResponse and concurrent planning can solve for customers.”

    Terms of Agreement
    Kinaxis will acquire Rubikloud for US$60 million in an all-cash transaction that is expected to close within 60 days. Based on Rubikloud’s current revenue and expense profile, the company’s fiscal 2020 revenue and Adjusted EBITDA guidance, as reiterated in its May 6, 2020 news release, remains unchanged. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

    About Kinaxis Inc. 
    Everyday volatility and uncertainty demand quick action. Kinaxis® delivers the agility to make fast, confident decisions across integrated business planning and the digital supply chain. People can plan better, live better and change the world. Trusted by innovative brands, we combine human intelligence with AI and concurrent planning to help companies plan for any future, monitor risks and opportunities and respond at the pace of change. Powered by an extensible, cloud-based platform, Kinaxis delivers industry-proven applications so everyone can know sooner, act faster and remove waste. For more Kinaxis news, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.