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Province announces strategic programs to create jobs and attract investment to tech sector – Lethbridge News Now



Jason Kenney — Credit to Government of Alberta website

By Connor Gunn

Jul 22, 2020

EDMONTON, AB– Alberta’s government is introducing the Innovation Employment Grant (IEG).

This program is going to promote economic growth and job creation by supporting small and medium-sized businesses that invest in research and development (R&D).

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement today (July 22) and says job creation is vital in a pandemic.

“The Innovation Employment Grant will create good jobs in the critical technology and innovation sectors. Together with Alberta’s Job Creation Tax Cut, this will make Alberta the best place in Canada to start a tech firm.”

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Caisse CEO not ruling out further investment in Cirque du Soleil – Montreal Gazette



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Emond identified two conditions as an “absolute necessity” for the Cirque to succeed — a “strategic operator” with a deep knowledge of the industry, and a smaller debt load.

“It needs a strategic operator to allow the Cirque to reinvent itself, a Cirque 2.0,” Emond said. “It also needs a reasonable debt level. It’s not the best company for high leverage.”

The offer by a group of Cirque debt holders led by Toronto firm Catalyst Capital Group is valued at approximately US$1.2 billion, according to court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young.

Up to US$375 million will be made available to the Cirque, while two funds totalling US$20 million will be set up to pay money owed to former employees and artisans. The agreement also commits to maintain Cirque’s head office in Montreal for at least five years.

“No matter what happens, there’s a minimum value out there which the debt holders have actually agreed to pay, and conditions for maintaining the Cirque here and taking care of various stakeholders,” Emond said. “That’s something you’d never see in a process like that. So there’s a minimum outcome that’s already been achieved.”

Other bidders have until Aug. 18 to submit a fully funded offer that is at least US$1.5 million higher than the creditor bid.

Canadian Press contributed to this report

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KEDCO's micro-investment program aids 11 Kingston businesses – The Kingston Whig-Standard



KINGSTON — Eleven local companies are to each receive up to $5,000 in support as part of a micro-investment program.

Kingston Economic Development Corporation’s Starter Company Plus program is meant to fund training, coaching and mentoring for business owners who are launching or have been in business for less than five years.

In the past, the program has awarded seven grants, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic compelled KEDCO to broaden the scope of the program’s awards. 

“This flexibility has allowed us to reach more businesses in need,” said Ian Murdoch, KEDCO’s business development officer for business retention and expansion.

“I’m pleased to see that we were able to provide some level of grant funding to 11 young businesses this spring.”

Debbie Fitzerman of DFC BBQ Sauce, Jenna Richmond of BSE Skateboarding, Brendan Cregg of Tree of Life & Restoration and Native Plant Nursery, Cynthia Kennedy of Hunter’s Creek Golf Course, Jonathan Zelt of Black Rose Waterproofing Inc., Laura Oomen of Wiggie Wizzle Club, Megan Blay of GreenWell Design Co., Sarah Botros of Yoga LunaSol, Sean Monteiro of Bounce, Suzanne Garrett of Travel Health Experts, and Tammy Watson of Trillium and Maple Woods received funding. 

“Building a company is already a daunting feat for many individuals, but when coupled with a global pandemic, it’s exponentially more difficult,” Monteiro said. “The Starter Company Plus program did an incredible job helping Bounce focus on adapting to these unprecedented times and how to continue building a sustainable business.”

Applications for the fall session open on Sept. 1. Details can be found on KEDCO’s website.

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Growing concern pandemic could stall new angel investment –



WATERLOO REGION — As the Canadian economy slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is growing concern many of this country’s youngest startup companies may lose access to a vital source of early funding.

Companies often rely on so-called angel investors to fund the earliest stages of their growth, and it’s a crucial source of investment for businesses that aren’t yet big enough or have sufficient sales to capture the attention of major investment firms or banks.

With growing global uncertainty over just how quickly the economy will recover from the pandemic, however, and with access to critical U.S. capital largely cut off due to border closures and reductions in travel, there are worries Canadian angel investment may dry up.

Waterloo Region’s tech and innovation sector owes much of its success to angel investors, said Iain Klugman, chief executive of local technology hub Communitech.

“It is the capital that launches almost every successful company in the history of Waterloo Region,” Klugman said, citing local success stories such as OpenText, Vidyard and D2L (formerly Desire2Learn).

“It is the capital that launches innovation-based business; almost always the first (investment) round is driven by angels.”

Angel groups across Canada are calling on the government to create incentives to get Canadian capital off the sidelines and invested into homegrown companies and talent.

And we’re not talking huge amounts of money, either. Klugman said many angels invest perhaps $50,000 to $100,000 of their own cash every year into companies — often in exchange for convertible debt or an early ownership stake.

Yet the pandemic and the economic malaise that has accompanied it could stall future investment as angels put a pause on potentially riskier endeavours in favour of safer bets, like real estate.

Klugman fears this funding freeze will come just as the push for entrepreneurship picks up among university and college students graduating into a weak economy, and people recently laid off from work who may look to self-employment as a more viable option.

“It’s time for the government to put into place some incentives,” Klugman said. One option would be an angel tax credit worth up to 50 per cent of the investment, he said.

Jess Joss is worried companies will lose more than just access to early-stage cash in angels stop investing.

“Think of these companies as seeds, and the angels are the water and fertilizer,” said the chief executive of Equation Angels, an amalgamation of more than 100 angels from Kitchener-Waterloo’s Golden Triangle Angel Network, Burlington’s Angel One group, and London’s Southwestern Ontario Angels.

These investors provide much-needed cash, but they also bring “mentorship and access to their networks,” Joss said.

“It’s not just money, but smart money.”

Ontario’s 13 angel networks are also facing a fight for their survival. These groups help co-ordinate angels and their funding efforts in different regions across the province.

Many operate as not-for-profit agencies, and in March 2019 they lost provincial funding they say was critical for day-to-day operations. Each group received a maximum of $50,000 per year.

They may also soon lose funding made available through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Joss said.

The past decade has seen record levels of investment of more than $1 billion into early-stage companies (including a record-setting $163.9 million from angels last year), according to the National Angel Capital Organization, a group of 45 regional angel investment groups and 40 accelerators or incubators across Canada.

Another potential model of angel investment is the Archangel Network of Funds, a consortium of nine investors who pool their resources across three different portfolios in order to diversify the types of projects they fund.

One of the partners in the network is Amber French, and she said angel investors often run their own business — ranging from HVAC operators to patent lawyers — and some have seen their businesses take a hit during the pandemic, which has taken a toll on their willingness to take on new investment opportunities.

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“The Archangel Network is a good example of spreading money out and reducing the risk,” said French, who is also the managing partner of Catalyst Capital in Kitchener.

The long-term impacts of reduced investment into Canada’s earliest startups could be dramatic, Joss said.

“If you lose a generation of angels, you lose a generation of entrepreneurs, and then you lose a generation of economic recovery for our country,” she said.

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