The Global Venture Capital Conference Comes to Our Home Turf — And Makes Some Pretty Solid Strides
By Mike Woollatt, CEO
Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
Every year, our fellow associations from around the world gather together to discuss collective issues facing our industry, work toward common solutions, share best practices and ensure our collaboration lasts outside these few days together. The group is called the Global Venture Capital Congress (GVCC), and just like CVCA, it also includes associations focused on private equity and limited partners.
This event has taken place all over the world, including Israel, Ireland, the US, Brazil and Hong Kong. This year, for the first time ever, the CVCA was honoured to play host. We like to think it has to do with all the hard work we’ve been doing at the CVCA, but more likely, it was just our turn (just as a humble Canadian would say, we were told time and again). Regardless, we chose to host the event in Vancouver because, well, it’s Vancouver — but also because Vancouver is home to a burgeoning tech scene and a destination for capital from across the Pacific.
Guests included fifteen venture capital and private equity associations from across the globe. Notably, none of it would have been possible without the support of our sponsors, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, BDC, Proskauer Rose LLP, Silicon Valley Bank and SS&C Technologies.
The theme of this year’s gathering was Government Involvement in Venture Capital and Private Equity. We discussed best practices on how governments around the world get involved in venture capital directly — including programs available in the US and fund of fund programs in existence here in Canada and elsewhere. Neal Hill from BDC presented Canada’s Venture Capital Action Plan, which garnered much interest from the delegates. Yahal Zilka (of Waze fame) from the Israeli delegation also spoke about the level of government involvement in Israel: The ways they are already involved reads like the entire wish list from our summer consultation process and submission to the Canadian Government!
The lion’s share of the discussion on government involvement, though, was focused on regulation and taxation, which is increasingly global either in potential spread (see carried interest taxation) or via supranational organizations (the OECD and their tax avoidance recommendations) and has implications for anyone raising capital (AIFMD rules in Europe).
All of these issues require us to work closely together. But of particular concern was the OECD’s recommendations on Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS), which have the real potential of risking any transaction or fundraising done across borders by a PE or VC firm. One of the action items out of this meeting, and a sign of our increasing collaboration, is that we will jointly oppose these changes and write our recommendations to the OECD and the tax authorities in our own countries together as a group on this.
And finally, a treat for the group was to hear from legendary Harvard professor and investor William Shulman, who took us through his thoughts on the future of the PE and VC industries (generally pretty rosy) and the impact that tech is having on the poor and middle class around the world (generally positive again, but with some sore spots for us to be concerned about politically).
All in all, this event was a great way for us at the CVCA to extend the Canadian private capital industry’s reach and influence and put Canada on more radars – essentially what we’ve been charged with doing since we re-energized our association.
Attendees of the 2016 GVCC:
• American Investment Council
• Australian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association Limited
• Brazilian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association
• British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association
• Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
• Global Venture Capital Congress
• Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
• Institutional Limited Partners Association
• Invest Europe
• Israel Advanced Technology Industries
• Japan Venture Capital Association
• National Venture Capital Association
• New Zealand Private Equity and Venture Capital Association
• Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association
• Thai Venture Capital Association