OCIF evolves to create more companies and an environment for success

March 31, 2021
New Economy Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund
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RFPs issued for fund manager for startup fund and ecosystem accelerators

The Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) issued two requests for proposals (RFPs) to support the evolution of OCIF to accelerate the creation and scaling of more local companies and to strengthen the tech-innovation ecosystem in Calgary.

OCIF is seeking proposals for a third-party professional fund manager with a Calgary-focused fund that would match up to a $7.5 million contribution from OCIF to create a minimum $15 million pool of capital for investments in early-stage companies. The fund will provide the necessary capital for startups and aid in scaling small and medium-sized enterprises in Calgary.

A second request for proposals was issued for business accelerators and incubators to submit plans to expand and strengthen the tech-innovation ecosystem. As much as $20 million in funding will be available and the maximum expected allocation per individual accelerator bid will be up to $8 million over a five-year project timeline. OCIF will consider both private and not-for-profit accelerator models.

Both RFPs will be open until May 17th, 2021.

“The community has set a goal to create 1,000 new tech companies in Calgary over the next decade, and these initiatives from OCIF will support that goal and create a thriving innovation ecosystem where those companies can succeed,” said Mary Moran, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Economic Development and a member of the OCIF Board of Directors.

OCIF, a $100 million initiative launched by the City of Calgary in April 2018, makes milestone driven grants to select organizations based on achieving employment and other metrics. It supports investments that spur growth and create jobs in strategic sectors in the economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy.

To date, almost $43 million has been allocated to 15 projects that have led to investment commitments of nearly $640 million.

As OCIF focuses on ecosystem-building investments, a funding gap was identified for many promising emerging enterprises in Calgary that could be addressed by leveraging the OCIF resources. Unlike OCIF, the new capital pool will be managed by a third-party fund manager and would take ownership positions in the startup and scaleup ventures it supports.

Since its launch, OCIF has received more than 230 applications. Most were too early stage to qualify for OCIF support.

“One area of the business community we know would benefit from support are companies in the seed, pre-series A funding stage, and creating this additional capital pool allows us to leverage third-party investment expertise to expedite those decisions,” said Mark Blackwell, Chair of OCIF’s Board of the Directors. “The structure will provide an opportunity to generate a return that will be reinvested to create more opportunities for Calgary entrepreneurs and the broader innovation ecosystem.”

The innovation ecosystem RFP will allow for better coordination from all orders of government to attract investment.

“These two initiatives will accelerate the velocity of money going into the market,” Blackwell said. “This announcement is a major step for governments to work together to have a larger and coordinated impact on the City and the province. It will increase the number of Calgary-based jobs, real estate commitments and leveraged capital. Both initiatives support greater equality, diversity and inclusion in the ecosystem.”

“The intention for OCIF is to support key sectors in Calgary in the New Economy and with this evolution we can do that more effectively and better support more game-changing projects in the tech-innovation ecosystem in Calgary,” said Moran.

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