Each month, I share my favourite local stories that showcase the incredible work being done by members of our B.C. tech and innovation community. The objective of these posts is to shine a brighter light on the innovation that’s taking place across this province.
Here are the stories from February that caught my eye.
The Forefront of the Economy
What Happened: Raven Indigenous Capital Partners closed a historic $100M Indigenous venture capital fund.
Why We Should Care: The new fund will build off the success of Raven’s $25M Fund I, which launched four years ago. The oversubscribed, sector-agnostic Fund II -- which includes capital from Telus Pollinator Fund, Economic Development Canada, and InBC -- will go towards supporting Indigenous and Native American entrepreneurs. In particular, Raven is looking to invest in ventures that are ready to scale and demonstrate commercial viability.
Based out of Vancouver, Raven is North America’s only Indigenous-led and owned VC firm. With the launch of Fund II, Indigenous ventures now have a significantly greater chance at accessing capital and securing the resources they need to take their place at the forefront of the economy.
Congratulations to Managing Partners Paul Lacerte and Jeff Cyr and the entire Raven team on the close of a historic fund that will have a significant impact on Indigenous communities and businesses across the continent.
More on this:
From 2022: Animikii Indigenous Technology is Lowering Barriers of Entry to Building Tech
From 2022: OneFeather is Redefining Indigenous Experiences Through Digitization
Why We Should Care: Alternative proteins offer several benefits, including reducing GHG emissions, tightening supply chains, and alleviating food security challenges. As consumer demand grows for these new products, BC foodtech companies are well positioned to play a central role.
The seafood industry in particular is an area of strength for BC’s foodtech sector. Companies like Save Da Sea, Gathered Foods, and Modern Meat are already bringing innovative seafood products to market. Vancouver’s Top Tier Foods -- which is best known for creating the world’s first plant-based alternative to wagyu beef -- also produces quinoa for the sushi industry and seaweed-based fish roe alternatives.
Governments investing in alternative food sources is welcome news for consumers who are looking for more ethical and sustainable food options. Increasing local production of these products will also help us achieve our net zero goals, increase our global exports, and feed our growing population.
More on this:
From 2020: Top 10 NVBC Competition Spotlight: ThisFish Inc.
From 2021: Good Food Institute’s Industry Update on Alternative Seafood
Net Zero Gets $7.5M
What Happened: The federal and provincial governments invested a combined $7.5M into Foresight’s BC Net Zero Innovation Network (BCNZIN).
Why We Should Care: The newly launched innovation network will help support the development, adoption, and growth of BC’s cleantech sector. Through the BCNZIN, cleantech innovators will be able to access resources and support to attract investment, talent, and customers to bring their products to market.
The network will initially include four ecosystem clusters, focusing on forestry, mining, and water -- with the fourth cluster to be announced in the coming months. Each hub will have its own tailored programming to better identify gaps and fast track solutions within each ecosystem.
B.C. has long been a global cleantech leader and Foresight’s a big reason why. The BCNZIN will play a critical role in bringing green technologies into industry, while placing Foresight at the heart of the country’s transition to a net-zero economy.
Innovate BC is incredibly proud to support this initiative alongside one its longest standing partners and look forward to bringing new jobs, investments, and opportunities to cleantech companies across the province.
More on this:
From 2021: Government of Canada to launch the new Regional Development Agency for British Columbia
From 2023: Six B.C. Companies Named to 2023 Global Cleantech 100