June 28, 2021—Canadian Ecosystem Institute (CEI), in collaboration with the West Coast Opportunity Accelerator, co-hosted a live webinar discussion on the future of technology investment in North America. The webinar provided valuable insights on how tech entrepreneurs and start-ups can attract venture capital while leveraging existing opportunities within North America’s advanced tech ecosystem.
Moderator Catherine Clark led an interactive discussion with top-tier investors and industry experts on future trends, challenges, and opportunities for tech start-ups seeking early-stage investments in the coming months.
Special guest speakers included Austin Nairn, Vice President of Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Zoë Royer, City Councillor for Port Moody. Distinguished panellist speakers included Jie Chen (CJ), Managing Partner at Celtic House Asia Partners, Bin Zhu, founder of Stratos Network; and Bill Tam, Co-founder and COO of the Canadian Digital Technology Supercluster.
Celtic House Asia Partners is a Venture Capital (VC) company specializing in early-stage consumer marketplace and digital health startups between North America and China, with a special focus on companies established by immigrant entrepreneurs. In recent years, Celtic has invested in Fantuan, Cerebral, Applyboard, and Grubmarket, and these portfolio companies are now leading enterprises in their respective industries. More recently, they launched the $80 million Evergreen fund, focused on investing in Chinese-owned companies in Canada. During the panel discussion, CJ noted that innovative tech companies will have a bright future; the upcoming months are a prime time for tech investment growth. As a piece of advice, he recommends that start-ups continue to focus on growing and scaling while being extra cautious to accommodate unforeseen obstacles.
“If anything happens, companies should have the flexibility to tweak some things that they are doing in order to become more profitable. As for later-stage companies, we recommend winning as much market share as possible when cheap cash is still available.”
CJ, Managing Partner, Celtic House Asia Partners
According to Stratos Founder, Bin Zhu, this year will be marked by substantial investments in blockchain companies and industry innovations. Founded in Montreal, Stratos specializes in the construction of decentralized data grids. Aiming to accelerate the growth of decentralized blockchain, Stratos recently announced a seed round investment of $1.8 million.
“Blockchain is a hot narrative today with so many investors and so much money chasing high-potential projects. There are brilliant ideas and creative plans on the market. At Stratos—we are not only blockchain, but we are also a decentralized service provider. We want to use our decentralized service to help blockchain transition away from centralized service providers. By doing so, we are creating new uses for blockchain in traditional/ mainstream industries, so that blockchain and its applications are not limited to its own ecosystem. We believe the switch from centralized to decentralized blockchain services will continue to be a key trend over the next five years.”
Bin Zhu, Founder of Stratos Network
Bill Tam, one of Canada’s top tech leaders and policy experts, encourages companies to monitor market trends and make use of existing resources.
“In Canada, if ever there was a time to create a tech start-up and raise capital, the time is now. Last year, the Canadian Venture Capital Association (CVCA) reported that Canada only did around CAD $4.5 billion in venture capital investments during all four quarters of 2020. Yet, in the first quarter of 2021, the CVCA reported $27 billion in venture capital investments in the first quarter alone, with about 40% (CAD $1.2 billion) of those investments coming from British Columbia. What we can really see here is how the most successful businesses have been able to raise and start companies during the most challenging times.”
Bill Tam, Co-founder and COO, Digital Technology Supercluster
The webinar proved to be a great success, providing novel insights on how to grow a tech business in the current digital economy and what tactics to employ to attract and retain venture capital funding. Chris Pereira, founder and CEO of CEI, looks forward to further advancing the dialogue surrounding tech investment opportunities and trends in North America and the Asia Pacific.
“In Canada, we need to celebrate our successes. Vancouver produced six unicorn companies’ worth over CAD $1 billion in just the first month of 2021 alone.”
Austin Nairn, Vice President, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
“Vancouver’s Port Moody is a great place to invest—which is why it is attracting significant interest from the tech sector. Strong innovation is about fostering synergies in business development and the commercialization of ideas. Port Moody is connecting universities, business communities, and we are in close communication with provincial and federal agencies to leverage tech investment and continue attracting the much-needed business community.”
Zoë Royer, City Councillor of Port Moody