MaRS Discovery District officially launched its new impact investing platform, SVX (Social Venture Connexion), in an announcement this morning at the Toronto Stock Exchange. It is the first local impact investment platform of its kind in North America. To celebrate the launch, Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District, joined Tom Kloet, CEO, TMX Group, the Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, and Adam Spence, Associate Director, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, to open trading this morning at 9:30 a.m.
SVX started from a simple idea: mobilize private capital for public good by driving investment in organizations and companies that will, in turn, better our world. The online platform will connect investors and funds with local ventures—including not-for-profits, co-operatives and for-profit corporations—that have a demonstrated social and/or environmental impact and the potential for financial return. The platform allows investors to identify screened investment opportunities, reducing the time and cost burden of due diligence, and provides ventures and funds with increased access to capital and financial expertise at low cost.
“SVX provides a single access point for impact ventures and impact investors looking to connect,” said Spence, who heads up SVX on behalf of MaRS. “Until now there has been no platform for investors to identify ventures with a positive impact. We’re also opening the door to high-impact ventures that need funding to grow and scale.” The project is led by the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, in close collaboration with TMX Group and with support from the Government of Ontario, Torys LLP, KPMG, RBC, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and a host of other partners.
“SVX places Canada at the forefront of the global impact investing market,” said Ronald Alepian, Vice President and Group Head, Corporate Marketing and Communications, TMX. “TMX Group looks forward to working with MaRS to build a unique model to help mobilize private capital to drive social and environmental impact.”
As a co-founder of the project, TMX Group has provided vital talent, advice and financial support to SVX since the concept was first developed. Six years in the making, SVX amassed a cross-sectoral group of expert advisors with decades of experience in mainstream capital markets and securities law and regulations, and engaged in meticulous market research in an effort to understand barriers and opportunities.
SVX is targeted towards Ontario-based small- and medium-sized enterprises with less than $25 million in revenues in sectors including: affordable housing, employment services, food security, education, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and initiatives for First Nations and new Canadians.
The impact ventures and funds on SVX’s directory must meet rigorous criteria and standards to access the platform. This includes a minimum impact rating via the Global Impact Investing Rating System (GIIRS) in the case of for-profit ventures and funds.
SVX is accessible to Ontario-based accredited investors. This list includes impact-focused angel investors, impact capital funds, fund managers, asset managers, philanthropists, family offices, and foundations looking for mission-related investments.
Each impact venture accessing SVX also has the opportunity to engage with investors face-to-face through pitch sessions and investor breakfasts. “SVX will also function as a network,” Spence said. “We believe that this component of in-person connection is critical.”
“I’m proud Ontario is home to North America’s first online platform to connect social ventures and impact investors,” said Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. “Our goal is to make Ontario the best place in the world to invest in social enterprise and, in the process, to help build a stronger economy and fairer society. The new SVX is an important step in the right direction to unlock capital for social entrepreneurs so that they can grow their businesses and the economy.”
Spence noted that “if, as projected, one per cent of total globally-managed assets moved in this direction, $500 billion could flow to these ventures over the next ten years. In Canada, it is expected the impact investing sector will grow from $5.3 billion to $30 billion over the next decade. This is the very real premise of the emerging impact investing sector. With SVX, MaRS aims to put Ontario on the leading edge of this global trend.”