“Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative”: 2017 federal budget to boost capital support for start-ups, says Emergence Partner, Grant Thornton

May 25, 2017

This is “Part One” of a three part series entitled “Innovation and the Canadian economy” from Emergence financial Partner, Grant Thornton, designed to help our clients “decode” some of the implications of Budget 2017. Click to read Part Two and Part Three!

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-1-21-28-pmThe Canadian economy

The 2017 federal budget demonstrates the government’s commitment to innovation, stating that “Canada must do more to encourage innovation. The future success of all Canadians relies on it.” 

To foster innovation, the government announced plans to evaluate and modify various programs that fund innovation, with the goal of consolidating and simplifying the programs that support Canadian entrepreneurs.

The changes are expected to advance Canada’s position as a world-leading innovation economy, improving its ability to create jobs and increase business investment in the country.

Venture capital investment in Canada

Start-ups and small businesses require funding to grow and reach their full potential. Notably, between 2014 and 2015, Canadian venture capital (VC) investment grew by 12% to $2.3B. Ontario led the charts nationally, attracting 42% of all venture capital investment, while the information and communication technology industry continued to receive the most VC across all sectors.

Yet, despite this increase in VC investment, most funds went to support earlier-stage deals rather than those at the later stages. As a result, amounts invested in later-stage companies fell by 12%. Late-stage venture capital is typically offered to young, established businesses with sales and revenue to help the business grow. When funding to this group declines, this is a major concern, as a lack of support for growing companies can prevent them from scaling up—ultimately impacting the Canadian economy.

Venture capital investment in Canada

The federal government continues to make changes to encourage Canadian VC investment and help businesses to scale up. One such initiative included in the 2017 budget is the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI).

The budget proposes to make $400M available through the Business Development Bank of Canada on a cash basis over the three years. This program comes after the success of the 2013 Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP) implemented by the government to encourage investment in early stages of growth. The program supported four successful private sector-led funds, resulting in over $900M in VC being added to the Canadian ecosystem. (See also: Venture Capital Action Plan by Business Development Bank of Canada. https://www.bdc.ca/en/articlestools/entrepreneur-toolkit/templates-business-guides/glossary/pages/venture-capital-action-plan.aspx).

Further building on this success, the VCCI will provide financial support to Canadian companies in the late-stage funding cycle. It is estimated that VCCI’s success could inject $1.5B into Canada’s innovation capital market. To access the VCCI funds, private sector parties will have to submit proposals to the government that would be evaluated on the amount of private sector capital already secured, expected benefits for Canadian firms, proposed approach for risk sharing between the government and private sector, and the investment strategy.

This type of support for the VC sector will encourage the development of a globally competitive innovation industry.

Stacking funding by leveraging SR&ED credits with VCCI investment

To remain globally competitive, growth-minded companies constantly invest in the research and development of new products and processes. Companies applying for the VCCI may also be able to leverage the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit.

The SR&ED program is the largest source of R&D funding in Canada, which rewards companies for innovation. Claimants from various industries, including manufacturing and information technology, can reap benefits of the program.

To learn more about VCCI and how Grant Thornton can help your organization, please contact: Martha Oner, National Leader, R&D and Government Incentives T +1 519-744-2333. E-mail: Martha.Oner@ca.gt.com

About Grant Thornton in Canada

Grant Thornton LLP is a leading Canadian accounting and advisory firm providing audit, tax and advisory services to private and public organizations. We help dynamic organizations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, actionable advice through a broad range of services. Together with the Quebec firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton LLP, Grant Thornton in Canada has approximately 4,000 people in offices across Canada. Grant Thornton LLP is a Canadian member of Grant Thornton International Ltd, whose member and correspondent firms operate in over 100 countries worldwide.