$500 million fund InBC announces second batch of investments

The provincial Crown corporation has made direct investments into 4AG Robotics and Clarius Mobile Health, and into additional venture funds supporting B.C.-based companies.

Jill Earthy, CEO of InBC. Photo: Kai Jacobson / Vancouver Tech Journal

Nearly a year after the province’s $500 million investment fund InBC announced its first round of funding picks, the organization has chosen its next set of outfits to support.

InBC announced it has committed $4 million into 4AG Robotics (formerly TechBrew Robotics) and $5 million into Clarius Mobile Health. It has also given $10 million to Amplitude Ventures Fund II and $10 million into the Pender Technology Inflection Fund II — both venture funds that support B.C.-based companies.

“British Columbia is home to a great number and diverse set of companies at the forefront of innovation and aligned to our triple bottom line investment strategy,” said Leah Nguyen, chief investment officer of InBC. “These investments we announce today are catalyzing impact across sectors and geographic regions in our province; they’re driving innovation, creating quality, family-supporting jobs and building an economic future for B.C. that is more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive."

InBC operates with a triple-bottom-line mandate, and must consider people, planet, and profit in each investment. In addition to seeking financial returns, the firm must select organizations that innovate for the future, drive climate action, advance reconciliation, and elevate inclusive communities in B.C. 

Each of the four investments announced today appear to be in line with InBC’s plan of focusing on venture capital funds and companies with high growth potential.

4AG Robotics is an agritech company which develops and builds robotics solutions for agriculture producers to grow sustainably. Its harvesting robot is helping mushroom farmers to improve their yields and increase operational efficiencies, while addressing labour challenges and reducing food waste. The $4 million InBC has committed forms part of the company’s $17.5 million series A raise, which was announced yesterday.

Clarius Mobile Health, in turn, produces wireless handheld ultrasound scanners enabling healthcare practitioners to manage and perform exams from anywhere. It improves patient outcomes and accessibility to care with scanners that are affordable, ultra-portable, and using artificial intelligence to deliver accurate and high-definition imaging. According to Pitchbook, this $5 million investment will be the company’s first since its Series A2 in March last year.

InBC has previously said it will not invest into earlier-stage companies, as startups rely on advice from specialized investors. Nguyen believes InBC can best help early-stage companies by financing investment firms rather than injecting the cash first-hand — a thesis that likely contributed to the organization’s choice to support two venture funds in this round of funding. Doing so will increase both’s investing capacity as well as the number of investors in the province, the company said in a press release, and InBC has deliberately chosen funds committed to investing in B.C.-based companies across various stages of growth.

Amplitude Ventures is a venture fund that invests in life sciences and biotechnology companies, bringing healthcare innovations to market to help improve the lives of patients. Its Fund II will invest in early-stage companies in the areas of high value therapies, medical technology, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Pender Ventures is a venture fund investing in healthtech and B2B technology startups to drivevefficiencies and improve clinical decision-making, patient outcomes, and healthcare operations. The Pender Technology Inflection Fund II is focusing on companies at the growth stages between commercialization and scale up.

In its first round of investments in December last year, InBC put money into three funds: Evok Innovations, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, and Yaletown Partners. This latest set of investments, the company said in a press release, will also drive innovation, create quality jobs, increase research and development spend, and retain intellectual property in the province.

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