Canadian venture fund targeting women entrepreneurs gets significant raise from institutional investors

Toronto, Ontario (May 21, 2019) – Women entrepreneurs in Canada, who often face unintentional biases when pitching their companies to investors, now have a deeper well of financing to draw upon.

StandUp Ventures, a seed stage fund investing across Canada in women-led or co-led high growth ventures, announced new follow-on funding commitments from CIBC, Export Development Canada (EDC), Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund II (NVCF II), RBC, and Vancity. StandUp Ventures launched in May 2017 with a commitment from Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) as the fund’s founding and anchor Limited Partner.

The new commitments from key institutional investors brings the fund to $18 million in capital. With this close, the fund has exceeded its initial goal of $15 million and is targeting a final close of $25 million.

StandUp Ventures invests in Canadian pre-seed and seed-stage high growth technology ventures across sectors. Qualifying investments must have one women founder in a “C level” role with a significant ownership position commensurate with the stage of the company.

“This follow-on funding from top financial institutions demonstrates that investors are actively beginning to support women entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Michelle McBane, Managing Director at StandUp Ventures. “Research has shown that investor bias accounts for a third of the gender disparity in high-growth startups, and venture capitalists invest in what they know.  By making a concerted effort to fund women entrepreneurs, StandUp Ventures is helping to change the narrative and grow the talent pipeline of women in the technology sector.”

Since its inception in 2017, StandUp Ventures has made seven investments with the latest going towards Sampler, a platform that helps marketers manage the distribution of product samples online. Other ventures in the portfolio include: Bridgit Solutions, Coconut Software, Emovi, Nudge Rewards, and tealbook. Both Bridgit Solutions and Emovi have raised significant capital following StandUp Ventures’ initial investment. StandUp Ventures will dedicate the follow-on funding to approximately 12 to 20 investments over the next three to five years.

This infusion of capital reflects a growing interest and commitment from both new and existing investor groups to support the needs of women-owned and women-led businesses. Earlier this month, EDC announced a new $50-million program to provide equity capital specifically designed to help Canadian women entrepreneurs. And BDC has taken a comprehensive approach to supporting the needs of women-led firms since 2015 and offers a full spectrum of venture and growth capital solutions.


Investor Quotes

“We are thrilled to see so many leading Canadian investors join BDC in supporting the expansion of StandUp Ventures,” said Alison Nankivell, Vice President of Fund Investments at BDC Capital. “Michelle McBane and her team at StandUp Ventures are an important new addition to the Canadian VC ecosystem, addressing a critical gap in early stage risk capital for women led technology firms.”

“We are proud to support funds that invest in innovative Canadian companies led by women entrepreneurs,” said Mark McQueen, President and Executive Managing Director, CIBC Innovation Banking. “Gender balance is an economic imperative and organizations like StandUp Ventures are key to getting Canadian startups the funding they need to grow, scale and succeed over the long term.”

“EDC is delighted to be a part of StandUp Ventures and this essential fund for women-led businesses,” said Mairead Lavery, President and CEO, Export Development Canada. “Collectively we are addressing the tremendous need for investment capital which is essential to enterprise success, addressing the gap from both sides of the entrepreneur and investor table. Helping more women founders access early stage capital will provide them greater growth potential leading to an outsized impact for the Canadian economy.”

“Helping women entrepreneurs succeed is part of our ongoing commitment to promote gender

balance, diversity and inclusion in Canada’s venture capital ecosystem,” said Ian Carew, Director at Northleaf Capital Partners, the manager of NVCF II. “Our commitment to StandUp Ventures is an example of NVCF II’s strategy of investing in best-in-class Canadian venture capital funds, which in turn support the country’s most promising companies.”

“Women entrepreneurs are making a significant contribution to Canada’s economic prosperity and innovation landscape by bringing to market diverse ideas, products and services,” said Greg Grice, Executive Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “As part of RBC’s ongoing commitment to fuel innovation and support Canadian women entrepreneurs, we are proud to work with StandUp Ventures to fund more women-led ventures in the technology sector and alleviate financial barriers so they can successfully start and scale their business.”

“Our Impact Investment Portfolio was created specifically to have impact across multiple categories,” said Christine Bergeron, Vancity’s Senior Vice President of Member Experience and Community Engagement. “StandUp Ventures’ mandate to invest in Canadian women entrepreneurs is highly aligned with our investment strategy and we are excited to contribute to the growth of this ecosystem.”


About StandUp Ventures

StandUp Ventures invests in breakthrough companies led or co-led by women. We believe that women-led companies think outside the box, recruit great talent, and serve bigger markets. We invest in Canadian pre-seed and seed-stage technology companies with at least one woman in a C-level leadership position within the company. The fund leverages the MaRS IAF platform and was launched in May 2017 with an anchor investment from BDC Capital. For more information, please visit