NACO to launch pan-regional digital hub in Calgary to connect entrepreneurs with investors

Mark Lowey
March 31, 2021

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) will establish its first pan-regional digital hub for investors and high-potential entrepreneurs in Calgary’s new Platform Innovation Centre.

NACO’s “Canada Zone” hub will initially be a custom-built space in a new centre that is currently being built by local innovation entity Platform Calgary in downtown Calgary. NACO said the hub will "leverage digital infrastructure" to facilitate inter-provincial investment and deal syndication.

NACO, headquartered in Toronto, made the announcement on March 30 during its “NACO West” virtual summit.

“NACO is thrilled to launch its first Canada Zone in partnership with Platform Calgary to attract new pools of capital into the region,” said Claudio Rojas, NACO’s CEO, in a statement. “This will ensure that high-potential entrepreneurs in Calgary have instant access to a national network of investors.”

There is an uneven distribution of angel investment activity across the country, with Western Canada accounting for 13 percent of national angel investment activity, according to NACO’s recent 10th Annual Report on Angel Activity in Canada. Inter-provincial investments have also increased to 30 percent of total investments.

It is crucial to tap into the deep pools of capital in Western Canada to ensure that Canadian entrepreneurs are well supported with the capital and mentorship they need to scale up and drive Canada’s economic recovery, NACO said.

“The digital infrastructure NACO has created over these past 12 months will amplify national deal syndication,” said Sandi Gilbert, past chair of NACO based in Alberta. “This will support both entrepreneurs and local investors, which is key to leveraging NACO’s national reach to ramp up investment within Alberta and across Western Canada.”

Calgary set record for venture capital investment

Calgary led Alberta — and was fourth among Canadian cities — in venture capital investments in 2020, which marked a record year of investment for the province.

Alberta saw 51 deals completed, resulting in a total of $455 million in investment, according to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. Calgary had 33 of these deals and $353 million of the total investment.

The Information, Communications and Technology sector and the Life Sciences sectors had the most deals in 2020, receiving more than 80 percent of all investments made that year.

To date, 50 local, national and international innovation partners have signed on to join the Platform Innovation Centre, currently under construction in downtown Calgary’s East Village.

The 50,000-square-foot centre will be located in a new $80-million structure that includes a parkade with 500+ stalls. The centre, scheduled to open in fall 2021, is designed to concentrate tech entrepreneurs, high-impact programs, partners and investors under one roof.

NACO said it will leverage its network, membership and expertise to provide a concierge-style experience at the centre, along with training and networking for established and emerging investors and industry partners.

“In the Canada Zone, Alberta-based entrepreneurs will have instant access to NACO’s national network, which spans the entire startup, scale-up, and growth funding continuum," said Terry Rock, president and CEO of Platform Calgary.

NACO members have invested over $1 billion into more than 1,500 Canadian companies. NACO’s national network includes 4,200 angel investors, 45 incubators and accelerators, and 44 angel groups.


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