Canada is witnessing a revival in venture capital investment. According to Canada's Venture Capital & Private Equity Association, there has been a 300% increase in transactions in the past twelve months as compared with the previous year. Canadian law firm, Bennett Jones LLP, has acted on over 25 of those transactions with a combined investment value of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I've been advising the technology, media and telecom sector for over 30 years, and there is truly something special taking place in Canada right now,” said Barry Reiter, Chair of the Bennett Jones Technology, Media and Entertainment (TME) Group. “A surge of great young companies, smart investors, and the opportunity to access high-quality local advisory and mentorship support have dramatically changed the emerging company landscape in Canada.”
For example, elearning company Desire2Learn, recently announced it had raised $80 million in funding, the largest-ever venture capital investment in a Canadian software company, according to data from Thomson Reuters. The investment included participation from OMERS Ventures, which was established by the OMERS pension plan to seek out a select group of Canadian start-up success stories with the potential to become global brands and generate significant returns. OMERS Ventures has completed almost a dozen investments in less than a year, and Bennett Jones has provided legal advice on many of them including Desire2Learn.
"Financing is an important component to the growth and success of young technology companies but it must be supplemented with sage advice," said Gary Solway, Co-Head of the Bennett Jones Private Equity Group. “Successful young Canadian technology companies tend to grow quickly, internationally and with a network of partnerships with distributors, suppliers, financiers and advisers, often before their internal infrastructure to support growth is in place."
The Bennett Jones TME Group has long advised investors and technology companies throughout their full life cycle. With the support of Lead Partners, Barry Reiter and Gary Solway, companies like RuggedCom, Cognos and Alliance Atlantis had stable and knowledgeable legal counsel through years of growth to eventual sale. The TME Group has also been involved in the formation of and investments by investment funds ranging from angel investor syndicates through Blackberry Partners Funds, McLean Watson, VenGrowth, NFQ Ventures, Ventures West and Castlehill Ventures.
Some of the early stage financings Bennett Jones has been involved with over the past year include; Desire2Learn, Syncapse, Vision Critical, mDialog, FUSE, Optech, Geminare, BlueAnt, Skypower, Wave Accounting, Hotspex, Sweet Tooth, Build Direct, AppHero, Analytics4life, Hopper and Creative D. Recent later stage public technology company exit or initial public offering transactions in which Bennett Jones has had a significant role include RuggedCom's $440 million takeover by Siemens, SMART Technologies' $660 million initial public offering, and Mosaid's defence against a hostile takeover by Wi-LAN and its $590 million sale to Sterling Partners.