Virgin Unite Canada have partnered with MaRS Discovery District in 2016 to start a CA$5.8 million early-stage social impact fund – one of the first of its kind in Canada.
The MaRS Catalyst Fund is now fully invested and allocated to nine high-impact ventures in the areas of education, healthcare and sustainable energy.
Over the last three years the portfolio companies have facilitated tech training for over two million students, provided over 7,000 patients with improved health outcomes as a result of digital technologies and predict to reduce CO2 emissions by 400 tonnes by the end of 2019.
One of the portfolio companies, Classcraft, has recently secured CA$10 million Series A financing to help educators motivate students to become more engaged at school. Another company, Hydrostor, announced last month the closing of US$37 million (CA$49 million) in growth financing to advance its utility-scale energy storage projects globally, helping to accelerate the world towards decarbonising power grids.
Building on these impressive early results, the team behind the fund has been able to spin out of MaRS and rebrand as Amplify Capital, announcing today the launch of a larger second fund with a target size of CA$30 million.
The fund’s impact investment strategy will continue to align with three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education as well as Affordable and Clean Energy. Amplify Capital plans to co-invest or lead in deals at the seed stage when the company is building momentum to scale.
“Virgin Unite was thrilled to be a cornerstone investor in 'Fund I' and see how strong the portfolio is today,” said Andrew Bridge, co-founder and partner, BrandProject and Director of Virgin Unite Canada. “Impact investing in Canada has come a long way and we think the MaRS Catalyst Fund was a strong contributor. It is great to see that the team is raising a larger second fund.”
The market for impact investing in Canada is growing and according to the Responsible Investment Association, assets under management in impact investing grew by 81 per cent to CA$14.75 billion in the two years prior to end of 2017.