Invest Canada

#IC18 Spotlight: Highlights From The Corporate Venture Capital Panel

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At #IC18, CVCA’s 2018 conference in Calgary June 5 – 7, delegates enjoyed a new panel dedicated to corporate venture capital. On the panel, Rich Osborn (Managing Partner, TELUS Ventures), Norm Bogner (President, New Ventures & Commercialization, ATCO Group), Meghan Sharp (Managing Director, BP Ventures – Americas) and was moderated by Michael Dingle (Partner, PwC Canada).

Here are highlights from the session:

Industries which are under threat can benefit from investing in venture capital.

Osborn:The real objective is twofold. One: we want to insource innovation from the smartest entrepreneurs who are moving quicker than certainly we can at times. The second thing is, we want to understand where technology is going and from my view, there’s no better way to do it than through venture capital.”

Investors need to be strategic about what support they can provide, outside of finances.

Sharp:We can help companies so that they’re not just creating something in a vacuum, but a fit-for-purpose product for the oil and gas industry. [We can support companies with] our ability to test and to help them grow their market.”

Working with a startup initially as a client can make it a win-win scenario for both parties and will help determine the most appropriate relationship moving forward.

Bogner:Based on successes [in product validation], we identify what we should do next. Is that investing, is it partnering, is it acquiring or is it simply remaining a client? The recent conversations I’ve had with startups that have come to us, they’re actually saying the money would be great but we’d prefer if we could just be a client and do a pilot with you to give us that credibility’ so that’s something we’re leveraging. It gives us a better cadence to see where we’re going to invest.”

Venture capital can be the most effective pathway to learning about unfamiliar industries.

Osborn:Ownership matters. You pay more attention to things that you own and by having ownership roles in companies, you are, by definition, going to watch and learn at a higher rate than you do as you would by doing joint ventures or by passive licensing deals or doing any of the more traditional partnership models.”

There may be times when venture capital may not be the best approach, such as if your company is seeking to access the technology of a startup.

Sharp:If BP wants to have exclusive access to a technology, we don’t believe venture is the right approach because the whole point of investing in a startup and having that equity piece is to align interests with your co-owners and you have to want what’s best for the startup which is to grow as fast as possible.”

The corporate venture capital committee at the CVCA is currently in development. Learn more about membership and join today to access information that will help your organization grow.

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