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COVID-19 shaping venture capital investment in Canada: KPMG


Thursday, June 25, 2020 6:22:00 PM

Like most of the economy, Canada's venture capital investment has been reshaped by COVID-19 in 2020.

"While market uncertainty has slowed overall investment in the Canadian sector, funds continue to flow to firms developing technologies to combat the impacts of the coronavirus," says Sunil Mistry, Partner, Private Enterprise and Technology, Media & Telecommunications, KPMG in Canada. "The fact that three of the top transactions this quarter were related to the pandemic further highlights how important it is that we develop solutions to combat the virus."

Top deals in Q2

$142 million in financing for Vancouver-based Abcellera, a biotech firm that researches and develops human antibodies to address pandemics and common diseases
$81 million deal for Ventus Therapeutics, a Montréal-based company that develops medicines that target immune systems
$74 million Series C round of funding for Waterloo-based ApplyBoard, the newest member of Canada's exclusive unicorn club. The company claims its education software platform is now valued at $2 billion
$68 million offering for WorkJam, also out of Montréal, to further grow its digital platform for front-line workers
"The reality is, developing a vaccine against COVID-19 is one of the most important business issues facing our economy so it is encouraging to see investments going to Canadian start-ups in the space," adds Mr. Mistry. He notes that the pandemic has highlighted some hard lessons on the critical need for domestic capacity to supply our own medical needs in time of crisis and that this should spur additional private and public investment in the sector.

He says that ApplyBoard's current valuation means Canada has now created three unicorns in the last six months – an important step in developing, and keeping, successful startups here at home. "After a dry spell of four years when we did not see a single startup grow to a billion dollar valuation, the recent run demonstrates a growing maturity in the Canadian marketplace."

He notes that while the quarter has yet to close, overall investment in the sector looks to be down about 30 per cent from the first quarter, a trend seen around the world. "With borders around the globe closed, the amount of foreign capital in Canada and most other jurisdictions has declined as investors have been restricted in their ability to meet with companies in person. However, domestic investment in the sector has remained steady as Canadian funds continue to take an active role in the sector while global investors are finding new ways to meet virtually to complete transactions."

SOURCE: KPMG LLP