Company Logo Wednesday, February 07, 2001

$23M fund will invest in local high-tech firms

Kevin Crowley, Record staff

WATERLOO -- A Waterloo venture-capital firm has launched a $23-million fund that will invest in local high-tech companies that are just starting out.

The Waterloo Tech Capital fund was unveiled yesterday by Tech Capital Partners Inc., a new firm run by Andrew Abouchar and Tim Jackson.

The fund's two lead investors are the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and Cranston, Gaskin, O'Reilly & Vernon Investment Counsel of Toronto.

"We're very pleased that these experienced investors, who have backed several national funds, have recognized this area's unique strengths in technological innovation and entrepreneurship," Abouchar said.

The Waterloo Tech Capital fund also includes some smaller investors.

Abouchar and Jackson hope to increase the fund's size by opening it up to local players who have a minimum $250,000 to invest.

The fund will invest in promising companies that are at a very early stage, Jackson said.

He and Abouchar are focusing on local companies so that they can be actively involved in the fledgling enterprises in the early going.

"What we're looking for is smart engineers with great ideas and then we will build a company and a management team around them and their technology," Jackson said.

Abouchar made a name for himself by managing the Waterloo Ventures fund on behalf of the Working Ventures Canadian Fund Inc., a national labour-sponsored investment fund.

Waterloo Ventures has invested in local startups Ardesic Corp. and Sirific Wireless Corp.

Abouchar continues to manage the Waterloo Ventures fund through a company he co-owns with Jackson.

Abouchar and Jackson launched Tech Capital Partners Inc. in January.

Jackson was previously the chief financial officer and acting chief executive officer of PixStream Inc.

He left PixStream after helping sell the company to Cisco Systems Inc. for $550 million last fall.

Tech Capital Partners Inc. has an impressive advisory board that includes former University of Waterloo president Doug Wright, who is also a director of Com Dev and Research In Motion; Peter Schwartz, chief executive officer of Descartes Systems Group; Brad Siim, co-founder of PixStream; and Richard Black, vice-president of Helix Investments and a director of Open Text Corp.

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