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Strengthening Canada's Economy Through new Immigrant Investor Program

Harper Government working with Canadian business leaders to support an entrepreneurial business culture in Canada

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/06/14 -- Industry Canada

Industry Minister James Moore today hosted a round-table discussion with business leaders in Vancouver on key elements of a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) pilot program. They discussed angel investors, seed-stage venture funds and business accelerators to determine where the real need is in the small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem and to ensure that the pilot program will truly drive entrepreneur success in Canada.

The Government of Canada is working with the IIVC pilot program expert panel to help build an entrepreneurial culture in Canada, complement public funds that support the development of early-stage companies and showcase Canada as an attractive destination for risk capital investment.

The expert panel members include Dr. Ajay Agrawal, Mr. Barry Gekiere, Mr. Grant J. Kook, Ms. Senia Rapisarda and Mr. John Stokes, who serves as chair.

This meeting concludes a series of consultations that were led by the expert panel and took place in cities across the country. The IIVC pilot program is led by the Minister of Industry in collaboration with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Quick facts

--  In Economic Action Plan 2014, the government announced that it will
    replace the ineffective Immigrant Investor Program and Federal
    Entrepreneur Program and eliminate their long-standing application
    backlogs in order to ensure that immigrant investors have opportunities
    to contribute to job creation and economic growth in Canada. 
--  The new IIVC pilot program will test the feasibility of attracting
    immigrants who will contribute to Canada's growth and long-term
    prosperity by placing an at-risk investment in a new Canadian venture
    capital fund. 
--  Canada has great benefits to offer investors: ambitious entrepreneurs, a
    skilled labour force, a strong economy and a sound banking system. 
--  A key objective of the government is to ensure that capital is available
    to help finance the creation and growth of Canada's most promising


"One of Canada's greatest assets is our creative and hard-working entrepreneurs, and we want to make sure that they have the capital they need to build our nation's innovative enterprises. Leveraging investments from immigrant investors will help support the continued growth of the Canadian economy, a priority for our government."

- James Moore, Minister of Industry

"Our government values the feedback received by Canadian business leaders who will provide insight on a new Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot program. Our government looks forward to the launch of the pilot program, which will attract real investments and will benefit the Canadian economy and labour market."

- Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Related product

- Backgrounder: Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program Expert Panel

Associated link

- Encouraging Long-Term Prosperity and Economic Growth: Government working with Canadian business leaders on a new immigrant investment pilot

Follow us on Twitter: @industrycanada


Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program Expert Panel

Ajay Agrawal is the Peter Munk Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, co-founder of The Next 36 and founder of the Creative Destruction Lab. He teaches courses on business strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. He was recognized as Professor of the Year by the Rotman School's graduating MBA class seven times. Professor Agrawal conducts research on the economics of innovation and creativity.

Barry Gekiere has over 25 years of experience in senior management positions in venture capital, private equity and operating companies. Prior to joining MaRS Discovery District, he was a partner at Ventures West Capital Ltd., one of Canada's largest and longest-standing venture capital firms. During his 13 years at Ventures West, Mr. Gekiere worked closely with entrepreneurs while making early-stage technology investments in IT, communications, cleantech and medical device companies. Prior to Ventures West, he had experience as a partner in two private equity firms specializing in expansion-stage financing and leveraged buyouts.

Grant J. Kook, C.Dir., S.O.M., is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westcap Mgt. Ltd., Saskatchewan's largest private venture capital fund manager, with over $540 million under management. He has been an advocate for designing, developing, capitalizing and managing a specialized family of funds that fill capital gaps in the western Canadian economy. The funds under management are individually focused on early-stage innovation, venture capital or growth, management buyouts, infrastructure, and First Nations sectors of the economy. Mr. Kook is also the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cheung On Investments Group Ltd., an international investor syndicate fund that was founded in 1989 and rated as one of the top 100 companies in Saskatchewan.

Senia Rapisarda is an experienced institutional investor who is presently consulting for HarbourVest in order to establish and lead its Canadian efforts. She was Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives and Investments at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) from 2010 to 2013. In this role, Ms. Rapisarda led BDC's efforts to develop a healthy venture capital ecosystem in Canada through several key strategic initiatives and investments, investing over $40 million in first-time funds and start-ups. Ms. Rapisarda has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications and technology sectors, including as senior advisor at NUR Energie, a London-based investment fund specialized in renewable energy, and as Managing Director of the Technology Private Equity Team at Nomura International, managing over US$300 million of investments in 42 companies across Europe, Israel and the United States.

John Stokes is a founding partner at Real Ventures, Canada's largest and most active seed venture fund, and is also the co-founder of FounderFuel, one of the country's top tech accelerators. He co-founded or established regional operations for a number of software, Internet and media companies in New Zealand (, South Africa (Brightpoint SA / MTN PAYG), Malaysia (Aethos Asia Pacific) and Japan (Livedoor and Vogue Planet). Mr. Stokes also founded Piermont Ventures Ltd., a Hong Kong-based boutique investment and advisory business that advised entrepreneurs and invested in their start-ups.

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