‘Major boost’ for tech start-ups unveiled – Whitehorse Star

The territorial government and the newly established Yukon First Nation Investment Corp. will invest a total of $5 million into Panache Ventures to support technology sector start-ups in the territory.

By Gabrielle Plonka on September 23, 2019

The territorial government and the newly established Yukon First Nation Investment Corp. will invest a total of $5 million into Panache Ventures to support technology sector start-ups in the territory.

“Our local technology and innovation industry has expressed frustration about the funding gap and lack of access to local equity,”

Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai told a news conference this morning in Whitehorse.

“Supporting this investment will help address those frustrations, enable future investment infrastructure, promote home-grown investment and advance Yukon’s technology and innovation ecosystem.”

The investment of $5 million contributed to Panache Venture’s $58-million inaugural fund.

Launched in 2018, Panache is a seed stage venture capital fund with offices in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

Panache’s mission is to provide investment as well as coaching, training and networking to Canadian technology start-ups at the beginning stages of operation.

Panache is backed by several institutional investors including the National Bank of Canada, TELUS Ventures, BMO Bank of M

Montreal and BC Tech Fund. The Yukon First Nation Investment Corp. is the most recent body to join Panache as a major investor.

Since launching, Panache has invested in 52 technology startups in Canada and the U.S. with approximately 60 per cent of those businesses local to Quebec and Ontario.

The Yukon’s investment aims to bring Panache executives to the territory and focus funding on local technology entrepreneurs.

The territorial government provided $2 million to the Yukon First Nation Investment Corp. to support their investment in Panache. The remaining $3 million was provided by the corporation, with backing from five First Nation development corporations.

Patrick Lor, Panache Ventures Managing Partner, said approximately three per cent of Panache’s total capital fund is expected to benefit Yukon businesses.

So far, Panache has invested in one Yukon technology start-up, a digital document tracking service called Proof.

Lor said an application process is available to Yukon businesses wishing to apply for funding. However, the Panache team prefers personal connection when considering investment.

Lor encouraged local entrepreneurs to reach out to the capital fund management team through email, text or the social media platform LinkedIn.

“We want to talk to companies rather than have them apply,” he said. His team is looking for companies in the early stages of growth with strong conviction and entrepreneurial spirit, he added.

Lor said his team members plan to visit the Yukon regularly and hope to spend time speaking face-to-face with local entrepreneurs.

He will spend most of this week in Whitehorse with partner Nicolas Jacques-Bouchard.

The firm’s focus is on companies innovating in artificial intelligence, financial technologies, health care, property technology and business-to-business software.

Ben Asquith, the president of the Yukon First Nation Investment Corp., said he believes investment in Panache Ventures will have a big impact on the territory’s technology sector.

“Panache is an amazing group of experiences managers who have invested their own money and shown amazing returns,” Asquith said.

“We want to see our investment efforts expand, and we know technology and innovation is key to expanding Yukon’s modern economy.”

Asquith added he believes the investment to be in compliance with the 1990 Council of Yukon First Nations Umbrella Final Agreement. That document outlines a framework for co-operation between First Nations and the Yukon government.

“This investment is not just for First Nations,” Asquith said.

“This investment has the potential to provide access to equity to all Yukon entrepreneurs, and shows how final agreements can benefit all Yukoners.”

Pillai said he is proud to see Umbrella commitments honoured. He believes the investment will provide positive opportunity for First Nations to enter the knowledge sector.

He added the investment will help the Yukon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem flourish.

“Simply, we’re seeing brilliant entrepreneurs that are growing their companies, and what they need is capital,” he said.

Pillai said he believes the investment will inspire entrepreneurs to stay in the Yukon rather than travel to Canada’s major centres to grow their businesses.

“Today’s announcement is a major boost for Yukon’s start-ups,” he said.


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