Canada VC Relay Ventures closes $150 million fund for Canadian startups
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Relay Ventures raises a new $150 million fund (screenshot, relayventures.com)

Their third round promises to continue Canada’s venture capital momentum

Toronto-based venture capital firm Relay Ventures has closed a new $150 million (CA$200 million) investment fund dedicated to Canadian startups, with limited partners including Northleaf Capital Partners, La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and the Royal Bank of Canada. Other LPs include U.S. Cellular, Kensington Capital Partners, Generation Capital, EDC, and AEC.

The firm has already invested in at least six startups, according to the announcement. Those include edtech firm FreshGrade (Kelowna), restaurant workflow startup 7shifts (Saskatoon), AI messaging company Automat.ai (Montreal), rewards startup Carrot Insights (Toronto), Israeli company Kwik Commerce, and Silicon Valley-based customer service provider UJet.

Dubbed Fund III, a portion of the money came from a CA$400 million federal venture capital program.

“Over the last eight years, we have maintained an exclusive focus on mobile and today 1 in 2 smartphones in the world run software from our portfolio companies,” the firm’s announcement mentioned, referring to themselves as the most active Canadian software investor in the US. “We are excited to continue this momentum as we partner with remarkable entrepreneurs making a significant impact in their markets.”

The announcement comes at the same time that Thomson Reuters released a summary of Canada’s 2016 venture capital investments to date, already topping more than $2.5 billion after just three quarters. Relay was named one of the country’s most active domestic investors with 10 investments in 2016 to date. Including the new investments, that makes at least 13 investments in Canadian companies this year. That report appears to count a July seed investment in Automat.ai, so it was not immediately clear if the investment Relay mentions here is additional to that July round or the same.

The firm claims to have invested over CA$355 million into 76 companies, about a third of which have achieved an exit.

“It’s a lot of work because we cover a large geography, but we get better results because we have a real differentiator in companies we invest in. At the end of the day, money is money. It’s all the same and it achieves the same things,” Relay Ventures Co-Founder Kevin Talbot told BetaKit.

Other recent investments include TouchBistro, Montreal-based bio-sending clothing startup OMsignal, ecobee (Toronto), Kira Talent (Toronto), Tynker, and AmpMe (Montreal).

“But if we can bring in network, expertise, and assets from Silicon Valley to companies outside of Silicon Valley, this is valuable to entrepreneurs,” Talbot continued. “It’s the same thing for companies in the Valley, because we differentiate inside the Valley by the expertise we have and by the network effect we’ve got.”

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