MARS CATALYST FUND REBRANDS TO AMPLIFY CAPITAL, TARGETS $30 MILLION FUND II    MaRS Catalyst Fund is rebranding to Amplify Capital and launching a second seed-stage impact tech venture fund, with a target of $30 million CAD – six times the size of Fund I.   Amplify Capital launched as MaRS Catalyst Fund in 2016, incubated at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. Fund I totaled $5.8 million with $5 million coming from private and $800,000, from the Ontario government.  “We’re seeing financial returns that are significantly higher than what you’d traditionally expect from social enterprises.”  Amplify’s new fund will be spun out independently from MaRS when the fund makes its first close, with initial capital commitments expected to finalize early next year. The firm plans to co-invest or lead in about 20 deals total, with a focus on the health, education, and cleantech.   Kathryn Wortsman, general partner of Amplify, told BetaKit that what makes Amplify different from other venture capital firms is that it screens for impact first and measures the impact outcomes of each of its portfolio companies.  “What we’re seeing in our portfolio is that mission-driven companies actually have specific attributes that we think drive profits even further than traditional companies,” Wortsman said.      
   
     “ I want more investors to start thinking about how they can align their investments with urgent problems we can solve. ” 
   
   — Kathryn Wortsman, Amplify Capital 
 
     The decision to rebrand came from competition with the inaugural fund’s brand, amid the existence of another firm called Catalyst Capital. The second reason was that Wortsman thought ‘Amplify’ had more potential to encourage fund investors to think about how they can literally ‘amplify’ their capital, rather than focusing solely on returns. Through the rebrand, Wortsman said she wants to address both the growing market for impact investing in Canada, as well as the increasingly urgent social and environmental problems faced globally.   Wortsman began her career as an investment banker and later went on to invest in and manage venture capital and private equity in startups. She became interested in social finance when she joined Social Venture Partners NYC, later founding Social Venture Partners Toronto. Wortsman joined the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing in 2015 as an investment director and fund manager for the MaRS Catalyst Fund.   RELATED:  MaRS expands impact investing platform to Quebec   To be eligible for investments from Amplify, companies must have a business model that creates a social or environmental impact through every one of its products or services. Amplify plans to work with portfolio companies to create tools to measure impact for specific outcomes, such as patient health, skills attained by students, and specific greenhouse gas reduction targets. The firm is hoping this will help portfolio companies clarify and quantify their customer value proposition. By implementing high environmental, social, and governance standards for its companies, and providing support for them to achieve B Corp certification (companies measuring social and environmental performance), the fund aims to achieve greater returns in health, education, and cleantech.   “We see a few positive attributes about these markets,” Wortsman told BetaKit. “One is they tend to be more recession-resistant markets, where you’re seeing public and private payers come to the table. These are addressing urgent and necessary problems, [and] we’re seeing customers are willing and able to buy, whether that comes from regulation changes in climate change initiatives, or it could be ‘pay for success’ models in education and healthcare. We’re seeing a shift from customers wanting to pay for outcomes versus just a transaction.”  Amplify said the fund’s impact investment strategy is in accordance with three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: good health, quality education, and climate action. Wortsman said the fund has already seen strong interest from both existing and new investors. The team currently sits at two people but is looking to soon grow to four within the next 12 months.  The original MaRS Catalyst Fund, one of the first early-stage impact venture funds in Canada, was seeded by Virgin Unite, while early investors included the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, Lino et Mirella Saputo Foundation, and the Chawkers Foundation. Amplify also received significant support from Fondaction, a $2 billion foundation based in Quebec.  RELATED:  MaRS study says the Toronto startup money is in health and cleantech   Amplify Fund I made nine investments across Ontario and Quebec, with two of its portfolio companies raising follow-on rounds at significantly higher valuations from the fund’s initial investment, including Hydrostor, which has raised a follow-on strategic round of $49 million. ClassCraft also recently raised $10 million in a Series A, with participation from Amplify. Other investments from Fund I include Chalk.com, Inkblot Therapy, Flosonics, ChallengeU, and Invivo.AI.  For Fund II, Amplify will cut first cheques of between $500,000 and $750,000, double what its Fund I invested initially, and depending on company progress, there will also be an opportunity to invest up to three times that initial amount in Fund II. Amplify said has 40 percent of Fund II will be reserved for follow-on investments.  “We’re seeing financial returns that are significantly higher than what you’d traditionally expect from social enterprises, and I think we’re surprising a lot of mainstream investors,” Wortsman said.  “It’s no surprise that our returns are in line with the market as impact businesses have key strategic advantages,” she added. “They’re able to attract and retain top talent, have strong customer retention and loyalty, and they’re able to access low-cost capital from institutions as they’re solving a social or environmental problem.”  Image courtesy MaRS Catalyst Fund

Betakit profiles Amplify Capital’'s fund 2 launch.

Amplify’s new fund will be spun out independently from MaRS when the fund makes its first close, with initial capital commitments expected to finalize early next year. The firm plans to co-invest or lead in about 20 deals total, with a focus on the health, education, and cleantech.

       Impact Investing becoming Mainstream in Canada   For many Canadians, it’s important that their investments reflect their personal values. A first step may be to avoid investing in companies whose business they see as unethical, such as weapons manufacturers, tobacco and fossil-fuel companies. But an increasing number of people are looking to go further. They want to invest in firms that are working actively to make the world a better place.  That’s where “impact investing” comes in. A subset of responsible investing (RI), impact investing goes beyond excluding companies that may have questionable business practices. Instead, it seeks out companies with a stated intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. It’s a trend that is on track to play a much larger role in the years ahead.  “Many of my clients are shopping carefully, looking at where and under what conditions their clothes are made, buying organic produce and fair-trade coffee,” says Sucheta Rajagopal, investment advisor and portfolio manager at Mackie Research Capital Corp. in Toronto. “They want their investment portfolios to reflect those concerns.”  Ms. Rajagopal became an advisor more than 20 years ago and offered RI as an option to her clients because she says she’s someone who’s very interested in social and environmental issues.  “I found there was a huge take up,” she says. “So, after a few years I focused exclusively on RI. All my clients are socially responsible investors and they seek me out because that’s what they are looking for.”  As part of her socially responsible approach, Ms. Rajagopal offers clients a variety of impact investing options. It’s part of a growing trend. The Responsible Investment Association’s (RIA)  2018 Canadian Impact Investment Trends Report , published this past February, reveals that assets under management in impact investing in Canada grew to $14.75-billion as of year-end 2017 – up by 81 per cent from $8.15-billion two years earlier.  Dustyn Lanz, the RIA’s chief executive, says most large asset-management firms are now incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into their investment decisions.  “The business case for doing it is quite clear,” he says. “A company is more than just the numbers, so investors need to look beyond the financials to see how well a company is managed. Looking at a company’s performance on environmental, social and governance issues can help to identify risks and opportunities that may not be visible in conventional financial metrics. As a result, integrating these factors into investment analysis can shine a light on companies that are going to generate sustainable profits over the long term.”  There are several ways advisors can introduce socially responsible investing, in general, and impact investing in particular, into their business. One thing to bear in mind is that it doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition.  “Many clients are happy to have a portion of their portfolio invested responsibly,” says Ms. Rajagopal.  She recommends sounding out clients on the topic, then seeing what might work for them. One possible way to start is to look at a “best of sector” approach. That involves finding companies even in sectors such as oil and gas that are actively trying to have a positive impact on ESG issues.  As far as impact investing options currently available to retail investors, advisors can look to some specific exchange-traded funds. Ms. Rajagopal says Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc.’s  Horizons Global Sustainability Leaders Index ETF (ETHI-T)  and Evolve Funds Group Inc.’s  Evolve North American Gender Diversity Index Fund (HERS-T)  have a strong representation of companies with a focus on impact investing.  Mr. Lanz says more asset-management firms are looking to differentiate themselves by moving into impact investing. He cites Britain-based Schroders PLC’s recent acquisition of a majority stake in Switzerland-based impact investment fund manager BlueOrchard Finance Ltd. as an example.  “I believe we are going to see more managers either developing the expertise internally or buying it externally like Schroders did,” he says.  The other trend Mr. Lanz sees developing is a growing appetite for impact investing in public markets. He predicts more assets will flow into thematic funds that focus on specific environmental themes such as clean technology and gender diversity.  “This trend underlines the value of shareholder engagement because, as an investor, you can’t change a company you don’t own,” he says.  One trend Ms. Rajagopal is hoping to see in the coming years is more products tailored to retail investors. She notes that the primary investment vehicles currently available in the impact investing space are either community bonds that can’t be held in most retail accounts or investments that are only available to accredited investors.  Ms. Rajagopal points to the green bonds issued by Toronto-based renewable energy co-op SolarShare and exempt-market dealer CoPower Inc., which she says are like utilities, with income streams that are guaranteed – often by the government – for 15 to 20 years.  “If they were available through brokerage firms, the take up would be huge,” she says.  Ms. Rajagopal says her “dream” is to have a product that aggregates community investments into a fund that people could buy for as low as $1,000 and hold in their registered retirement savings plans or other registered accounts. She would also like to see a “green real estate investment trust” that would hold building projects with a positive environmental and social impact.  TERRY CAIN SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 24, 2019  Image: RAY LIPSCOMBE/ISTOCKPHOTO / GETTY IMAGES

Industry News:
Impact Investing becoming Mainstream in Canada

For many Canadians, it’s important that their investments reflect their personal values. A first step may be to avoid investing in companies whose business they see as unethical, such as weapons manufacturers, tobacco and fossil-fuel companies. But an increasing number of people are looking to go further. They want to invest in firms that are working actively to make the world a better place.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Classcraft Secures $10 Million CAD Series A   Financing to Help Educators Motivate Students Investment to fuel company’s AI research and development initiatives, including a partnership with Thierry Karsenti, University of Montréal professor and Canada Research Chair on Technologies in Education    SHERBROOKE, QC and NEW YORK — Sept. 17, 2019 —  Classcraft, a learning company focused on improving student motivation in the K-12 education market, has closed its Series A financing, raising a total of $10 million CAD. The funding round, led by Investissement Québec, will enable Classcraft to achieve its mission of making school more meaningful by promoting human connections between students and teachers. Classcraft’s existing investors — including Whitecap Venture Partners, Brightspark Ventures, and MaRS Catalyst Fund — also participated in the round.   Classcraft’s Series A financing enables the company to deepen its ability to motivate students by harnessing the power of games. The company aims to build on its success of offering its product to K-12 teachers — in 2019, Classcraft surpassed 6 million users since its debut — by partnering with schools and districts on large-scale implementations. To scale the company’s sales efforts, Classcraft has appointed its first-ever Chief Revenue Officer: Michele Shively, who most recently served as vice president of sales at Nearpod.   Classcraft’s approach to helping educators motivate students is rooted in the power of games, which have become a cultural phenomenon among young people — and which are designed to create intrinsic motivation.    “At Classcraft, our aspirations go beyond student engagement. We’re aiming to foster the type of intrinsic motivation that makes students care about succeeding in school,” said Shawn Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Classcraft. “We’ve made an incredible impact working with educators to improve outcomes like social emotional learning, academic performance, and school climate. This investment allows us to scale these efforts while developing new ways of leveraging games, technology and experiences to create cultures of engagement.”  For Investissement Québec, the investment represents the firm’s interest in making a lasting social impact through education and in supporting entrepreneurship in Québec.   “Investissement Québec is proud to play a role in consolidating Classcraft’s position in Québec and abroad, helping to ensure its continued growth and a bright future. With this initiative, we are supporting a major player in the field, one able to offer tangible solutions to address the biggest education challenges our society is facing,” said Guy LeBlanc, Investissement Québec President and CEO. “We’re excited to see what educators and students can achieve with what Classcraft has built. And when these breakthroughs are happening in your own backyard, being able to support them means so much more.”   AI research partnership with University of Montréal professor   Classcraft’s efforts to foster meaningful personal connections come at a time when dramatic shifts in our society — including politics, the economy, and culture — have left many feeling disengaged. To help address this problem, Classcraft has broadened and deepened its ability to foster connectedness and belonging through technology and media.   Earlier this year, Classcraft announced a partnership with Thierry Karsenti, University of Montreal professor and Canada Research Chair on Technologies in Education, to research the responsible use of AI to engage K-12 students in the U.S. and Canada.   “AI has the potential to positively impact students’ academic motivation and even increase their success in school but only if it’s used to facilitate what matters most in any classroom: strong, human connections between students and teachers,” said Thierry Karsenti. “The research we’re conducting with Classcraft has the potential to highlight how we can promote engagement, connectedness, and belonging among today’s students.”   In June, Classcraft debuted Story Mode, which pushes the boundaries of what it means to go to school by helping teachers re-create the type of shared experience delivered by popular TV shows and games.   “If we want to get serious about motivating students to learn, we can no longer ignore what makes games so compelling to young people. Classcraft has figured out what makes good games and learning experiences so engaging and applied that knowledge to make school more collaborative and meaningful for millions of students,” said Jean Guesdon, Creative Director at Ubisoft, maker of Assassin’s Creed, who advised Classcraft on the development of Story Mode.   “We’re living in a time in which the rate of change is only accelerating, and those who aren’t thriving are finding themselves increasingly marginalized. By helping young people stay connected to themselves, their peers and the world around them, we can create generations of lifelong learners who find meaning in living and working together. Achieving this won’t just improve educational outcomes — it will help our society become happier, more productive, and more equitable,” said Devin Young, President and Co-Founder of Classcraft.   About Classcraft   Classcraft helps educators motivate students by making learning fun. Classcraft combines time-tested pedagogy with a modern approach, harnessing the power of what kids love — games and stories — to promote connections between students and teachers that make learning more meaningful.   Founded in 2013 by brothers Shawn and Devin Young and their father, Lauren Young, Classcraft is an award-winning ed-tech company serving more than 6 million students and educators worldwide and a Québec- and New York City-based certified B Corporation. Classcraft is used in more than 160 countries and is available in 11 languages. A Google for Education Premier Partner, Classcraft is available via Google’s App Hub and Classcraft.com.   About Investissement Québec   Investissement Québec’s mission is to foster the growth of investment in Québec, thereby contributing to economic development and job creation in every region. The Corporation offers businesses a full range of financial solutions, including loans, loan guarantees and equity investments, to support them at all stages of their development. It is also responsible for administering tax measures and prospecting for foreign investment.   Media Contacts    Classcraft   Barbara Webber  Public Relations Manager  BarbaraWebber@classcraft.com  (410) 934-0772   Investissement Québec   Isabelle Fontaine  Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs   Isabelle.fontaine@invest-quebec.com  (514) 876-9359

Classcraft Secures $10 Million CAD Series A

Financing to Help Educators Motivate Students Investment to fuel company’s AI research and development initiatives, including a partnership with Thierry Karsenti, University of Montréal professor and Canada Research Chair on Technologies in Education

      Defining Impact Tech  Extract from Chapter 2: The Rise of Impact Tech   This article features an extract of our report    The Frontiers of Impact Tech: moonshots worth taking in the 21st century,    published in June 2019. Download the full report:    http://goodtechlab.io       Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith   With a myriad of different concepts regularly used to describe the intersections between technology and society, it was not easy to pick one term for this report.  Existing terms include    tech for good ,  impact tech ,  social tech ,  cleantech ,  responsible tech ,  positive tech ,  transformative tech ,  humane tech ,  ICT for development ,  digital social innovation ,  factor-4 innovation , and more. Some relate to social good, others to sustainability. Some emphasize avoiding harm, others creating solutions. Yet others focus on specific sectors like civic tech, health tech,  peace tech , and  carbon tech . All of them have been used to describe projects featured in these pages.   To make things easier, we settled on using Impact Tech as the main term within this report , as we felt its current usages seem to better reflect the story we want to tell. We will define it within this section.   The “tech” part refers broadly to any technology , or  “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”  (Oxford Dictionary). This includes digital, hardware and bio-based applications, from high-tech to simpler tools known as low-tech (see part 1.3), though the former is more widely represented within this report.  But what does “impact” mean, anyway?  This question is probably the most frequent we encountered. To answer it we rely on the work of the  Impact Management Project  (IMP), a forum for building global consensus on how to measure, report, compare and improve impact performance. The IMP has brought together over 2,000 organizations to agree on the following definition:     “Impact is a change in an important positive or negative outcome for people or the planet. It can be deconstructed into five dimensions: What, Who, How Much, Contribution and Risk.”    —  The Impact Management Project   By assessing performance and data across the five dimensions, one can classify an organization’s impact in three categories:  A ct to avoid harm:  Preventing or reducing significant effects on important negative outcomes for people and planet. Such organizations are often labeled  “responsible” .  B enefit stakeholders:  Not only acting to avoid harm, but also generating various effects on positive outcomes for people and the planet. Such organizations are often labeled  “sustainable”.   C ontribute to solutions:  Not only acting to avoid harm, but also generating one or more significant effect(s) on positive outcomes for otherwise underserved people and the planet .    An organization’s goals can relate to three types of impact: A,B, or C    In the context of science and technology,  we propose the simplified terminology used in this report:     Responsible Tech  refers to the use of science and technology in a way that minimizes harm to people and the planet   (A).     Impact Tech  refers to the intentional use of responsible (A) science and technology to benefit people and the planet (B), ideally addressing a major social or environmental problem (C ).    Responsible Tech   Responsible Tech  “considers the social impact it creates and the unintended consequences it might cause”    according to  British charity Doteveryone. Unintended consequences can take many forms, including electronic waste, digital surveillance and bioethical challenges. Chapter 4 provides an overview of some of the most critical technology risks.   Many voices within the tech industry increasingly emphasize responsibility.  Examples include the  Copenhagen Letter  and  Catalog  published at TechFest, the  Center For Humane Tech  which aims to tackle screen addiction, and declarations from the  Canadian Tech community  or US tech giants  invited by French President  Emmanuel Macron.  The use of “Tech For Good” in the two latter examples illustrates, however, how loosely defined that term is. Critics especially point to the risks of “ good-washing ” and “ impact-washing ” — especially when companies like Palantir are included, despite their pivotal role in  global surveillance  and their association to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.  Besides industry-led initiatives, NGOs have been campaigning for responsible technology for decades. The protection of an open and fair internet, digital privacy and freedom of speech have been the focus of the  Electronic Frontier Foundation  in the US,  La Quadrature Du Net  in France, or Tim Berners-Lee’s  Web Foundation . Others like  ThingsCon  in Germany specialized on the ethics of connected devices. Meanwhile, research groups like  Data&Society  (US),  Eticas  (Spain),  Data Justice  (UK),  ITS  (Brazil),  AI Now  (US), and  CIPESA  (Uganda) have emerged.    Impact Tech   By contrast, Impact Tech aims to create positive social and environmental benefits.  This goal is not tied to a specific kind of organization, and is observed among startups, nonprofits, social enterprises, academia, the public sector, and even corporates.   However, not everyone likes the impact label.  Many tech investors and entrepreneurs told us they avoid it despite being mission-driven. The most frequent reason is the feeling it could send an implicit signal that financial returns would be lower — which is not necessarily the case, as we will see in our second report — and thus prevent them from raising funds.      “The word ‘impact’ is too often associated with lower returns. We think that if you solve the biggest problems in the world you should make a lot of money. Therefore we prefer to avoid this term.” Andrew Beebe, Managing Partner at Obvious Ventures     Another reason is that many mission-driven tech entrepreneurs and investors do not measure their social and environmental impact , and thus do not wish to carry a responsibility they cannot uphold. Explanations for the lack of measurement vary: i) they are not familiar with the methods; ii) they feel too resource-constrained to invest in it, especially at the early stage; iii) they do not think any method is relevant for their industry or their technology; iv) or sometimes they merely estimate that intent is enough, and measurement adds too much of a burden.  We understand these hurdles, but we believe it is possible to overcome them. In chapter 5, we attempt to demystify impact management.   At the same time, charities, foundations and social enterprises sometimes worry about words like “impact” and “for good” being used by for-profit companies , in potentially misleading ways. Indeed, not every social problem can be addressed by market-based solutions alone, especially in sectors like education and healthcare where so far only public services have a track record of universality.    “There is a huge disconnect between those who understand the possibilities of technologies like satellites, and those who truly understand social and environmental problems. It is our role to connect those two groups.” Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño, former VP Social Impact, Satellogic    Despite these concerns, we see encouraging signs of convergence from both ends of the Impact Tech spectrum.   This article features an extract of our report    The Frontiers of Impact Tech: moonshots worth taking in the 21st century,    published in June 2019. Download the full report:    http://goodtechlab.io

The Rise of Impact Tech

With a myriad of different concepts regularly used to describe the intersections between technology and society, it was not easy to pick one term for this report. Existing terms include tech for good, impact tech, social tech, cleantech, responsible tech, positive tech, transformative tech, humane tech, ICT for development, digital social innovation, factor-4 innovation, and more. Some relate to social good, others to sustainability. Some emphasize avoiding harm, others creating solutions. Yet others focus on specific sectors like civic tech, health tech, peace tech, and carbon tech. All of them have been used to describe projects featured in these pages.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     MaRS Catalyst Fund Invests In InVivo AI To Improve The Efficacy Of Drugs Coming To Market Using Machine Learning  InVivo AI, a Montreal-based startup using machine learning to improve the generation, screening, and optimization of new medications, has announced a pre-seed financing with MaRS Catalyst Fund, Real Ventures, Panache Ventures, and Brightspark Ventures, among others.  Founded in 2018 by Daniel Cohen, Therence Bois, Prudencio Tossou, and Sebastien Giguere, InVivo is developing novel algorithms to enable low data drug discovery, aiming to remove access to data as the principal roadblock when deploying accurate machine learning in pharmaceutical R&D.  Although they are still actively developing their core technology, the company is already working closely with a number of Canada’s leading research institutions to pilot and validate their computational tools, with an initial focus on cancer and rare diseases.   Quick facts:     Developing a single new drug can cost up to $2 billion    The average time required to develop a drug is between 10-15 years    Computational tools like machine learning have the potential to significantly reduce the time and costs needed to bring new medications to patients    “Pharmaceutical companies recognize the impact machine learning can have on their R&D efforts and are eager to integrate these tools into their workflows”, says  Daniel Cohen, CEO , “but many of the traditional deep learning approaches being used today are extremely data hungry and ill-suited to the constraints of drug development. What if we could develop new computational tools, entirely novel algorithms and architectures, that are optimized for the particular set of constraints under which new drugs are developed?”  “Bringing a new drug to market is an arduous and expensive process that can take up to 10 years and cost up to $2 billion. InVivo introduces an exciting new machine learning approach to make drug trials faster, more efficient and safer; the potential impact on general public health is substantial.”   Kathryn Wortsman, Fund Manager, MaRS Catalyst Fund

MaRS Catalyst Fund Invests In InVivo AI To Improve The Efficacy Of Drugs Coming To Market Using Machine Learning

InVivo AI, a Montreal-based startup using machine learning to improve the generation, screening, and optimization of new medications, has announced a pre-seed financing with MaRS Catalyst Fund, Real Ventures, Panache Ventures, and Brightspark Ventures, among others.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     MaRS Catalyst Fund Invests In Inkblot To Make Mental Health Services More Affordable, Accessible And Effective  Inkblot Therapy, a Toronto-based startup that makes mental health services affordable, accessible and more effective, announced a seed-stage financing round with MaRS Catalyst Fund and Active Impact Fund.  Founded in 2016 by Dr. Arash Zohoor and Luke Vigeant, Inkblot provides quality mental health services over a secure online platform while measuring improvement and treatment outcomes.  More than 6.7 million people in Canada live with a mental health condition. Mental illness can lead to higher rates of suicide, substances abuse, imprisonment, absenteeism from work, and short- and long-term disability.   Quick facts:     Inkblot is available to over 150,000 students across Canada    In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem    By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 has—or has had—a mental illness    People with mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general population    At least 20% of people with a mental illness have a co-occurring substance use problem    Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada    The disease burden of mental illness and addiction in Ontario is 1.5 times higher than all cancers put together and more than 7 times that of all infectious diseases (this includes years lived with less than full function and years lost to early death)    “It was deeply important for Inkblot to ensure that the first investors that we brought into the company were aligned with our mission and vision of fixing mental health in Canada. In MaRS Catalyst, we’ve found a perfectly aligned partner to help Inkblot scale over the coming years. We could not be more excited about having MaRS Catalyst on our cap table and Kathryn Wortsman join our board of directors. Working together we will improve access to mental health and improve health outcomes while scaling a business with strong fundamentals.”     Luke Vigeant, CEO, Inkblot    “Mental health is the leading cause of disabilities in Canada and affects an estimate of 1 in 5 individuals in North America. Inkblot’s approach to high-quality and measurable yet affordable and accessible mental health care is game-changing. With Inkblot, we have the opportunity to have a large scale impact on the state of mental wellbeing in North America.”   Kathryn Wortsman, Fund Manager, MaRS Catalyst Fund

MaRS Catalyst Fund Invests In Inkblot To Make Mental Health Services More Affordable, Accessible And Effective

Inkblot Therapy, a Toronto-based startup that makes mental health services affordable, accessible and more effective, announced a seed-stage financing round with MaRS Catalyst Fund and Active Impact Fund.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     MaRS Catalyst Fund’s ChallengeU Investment Helping High School Dropouts Complete K-12 Diploma In North America  ChallengeU, a Montreal-based online education platform that makes it easier for students to obtain their high school diploma without having to return to brick and mortar schools, announced a financing round of $2M with Real Ventures, MaRS Catalyst Fund and LaSalle International Inc.  Founded in 2013, ChallengeU’s online platform provides students with structural or behavior barriers a better chance to graduate and seek sustained employment and a better future.  There are over 3.2 million high school dropouts in North America, imposing an estimated $2.4 trillion cost on society through crime, unemployment, poverty, tax loss and healthcare. ChallengeU’s goal is to impact society by improving graduation rates, first in Quebec and then in the US.   Quick facts: (USA)     The lifetime social burden per youth who does not stay in school is $258,000    The total lifetime economic burden, including lost earnings, lower economic growth, tax revenues and higher government savings, is over $750,000 per youth    85% of Canadians receive their high school diploma     Quick facts: (Québec):     The total lifetime economic burden, including lost earnings, lower economic growth, tax revenues and higher government savings, is over $120,000 per youth    Dropouts have lower average annual incomes than graduates, with lost earnings on the order of $439,000 (undiscounted value) by the end of their working life.    Dropouts are affected more severely by unemployment: they are the majority of welfare recipients and the core of the prison population, despite comprising a minority in society. Lastly, dropouts have a shorter life expectancy and a higher incidence of depression.    “ChallengeU is more than an online school, it is a social cause that has a huge impact on society and the quality of life of citizens. We are pleased to have the leading Canadian impact fund as a shareholder. We truly share the values and vision of a better world with the Catalyst MaRS Fund.”  Nicolas P. Arsenault, CEO, ChallengeU   “The societal and economic burden of individuals who do not graduate from high-school is staggering. In the US alone, more than 3 million high school dropouts impose an estimated $2.4 trillion cost on society through crime, unemployment, poverty, tax loss and healthcare. Many eligible students don’t attend school because they are primary caregivers or need a steady income. ChallengeU offers an engaging solution by enabling students to attain their diploma using a mobile device – anywhere, anytime – resulting in a significant and positive impact to their health, career, and their community.” -   Kathryn Wortsman, Fund Manager, MaRS Catalyst Fund

MaRS Catalyst Fund’s ChallengeU Investment Helping High School Dropouts Complete K-12 Diploma In North America

ChallengeU, a Montreal-based online education platform that makes it easier for students to obtain their high school diploma without having to return to brick and mortar schools, announced a financing round of $2M with Real Ventures, MaRS Catalyst Fund and LaSalle International Inc.

      Flosonics On Track For Global Growth  When MaRS Catalyst Fund considered investing in  Flosonics Medical , we immediately saw the potential in its technology. A smart bandage that can non-invasively monitor arterial blood flow in critically ill patients has a large addressable market among emergency facilities and – crucially for us – could save lives and improve health outcomes.  One of Canada’s leading universities clearly agrees: Wilfrid Laurier has  chosen Flosonics  to be one of only 10 companies to join its Lazaridis Scale-Up Program.  The program, run by the university’s Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises, supports a highly selected group of early-stage Canadian companies which it believes have potential to scale up globally.  It provides 120 hours of mentorship and strategic advice from leading entrepreneurs, including intensive weekend workshops in six different North American cities with experienced executives, with the aim of accelerating company growth and entering international markets.  MaRS Catalyst invested in Sudbury-based Flosonics as part of a $5 million seed-stage funding round in January, which is enabling the company to commercialize its first product, the FloPatch wearable sensor.  Its acceptance into the Wilfrid Laurier program is another sign that Flosonics is a company to watch.   Thumbnail image: Flosonics Medical

Flosonics On Track For Global Growth

When MaRS Catalyst Fund considered investing in Flosonics Medical, we immediately saw the potential in its technology. A smart bandage that can non-invasively monitor arterial blood flow in critically ill patients has a large addressable market among emergency facilities and – crucially for us – could save lives and improve health outcomes.