Highline Beta announces first close of $20 million fund to invest in and scale startups with the roster of global corporate partners

With RBC as the lead private investor, Highline Beta’s inaugural fund forms part of the Government of Canada’s Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative.

TORONTO, November 19, 2019 – Highline Beta, a leading new venture development and venture capital firm known for its unique corporate innovation model, today announced the first close of its inaugural investment fund, Highline Beta Fund 2019 (“The Fund”). 

This predominantly Pan-Canadian fundwill make up to 30 investments in startups co-created or partnered alongside corporations, and is one of only seven funds selected by the Government of Canada’s Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as the lead private investor. 

Highline Beta believes it can improve upon the features of traditional startup accelerators and corporate-startup engagement programs to achieve more meaningful win-win relationships. Highline Beta has spent years collaborating with a roster of global corporations such as RBC, Anheuser Busch InBev, Aviva Canada and American Family on growth mandates beyond their core businesses to reimagine the industries we live in through startup innovation.   

“Almost four years ago, we pioneered a hybrid corporate venture studio and venture capital model alongside global enterprises that maximizes success for the corporate partner, startups and venture investors. We’ve taken our deep experience as tech founders, accelerator stage investors and corporate innovation architects to create a new model for corporate-startup collaboration that works. Today’s Highline Beta Fund announcement helps to solidify our leadership in the Pan-Canadian innovation ecosystem as we accelerate our co-creation work and investments with global 1000 enterprises,” says Marcus Daniels, Highline Beta Founding Partner and CEO. “Not only is this a unique model in Canada, but the goal for Highline Beta is to become a global category leader over the next decade that helps to launch and invest in market-leading startups.” 

Our corporate-startup venture model and Female Funders integration will generate better portfolio diversity and financial returns. 

The Fund’s first close signifies growing interest in the role of corporations building a portfolio of organic and inorganic growth opportunities using a venture capital approach. In turn, it also represents a shift in how startups navigate and co-innovate with corporations. 

“It can be challenging for founders to navigate the complex corporate structures and paths to decision makers within large organizations,” says Lauren Robinson, General Partner at Highline Beta and Executive Director of Female Funders. “Highline Beta’s corporate programs accelerate the path to commercial deals to better support our founders with validation through customer pilots to drive metrics for follow-on funding.” 

Increasingly, corporate executives are seeing their roles shift to focus on innovation and defining the future of their industries. To ensure systemic change for the funding landscape and underrepresented women founders, Highline Beta has integrated its Female Funders investment education program into their overall fund operations, resulting in a more diverse group of investors, executives and founders at the table. This will unlock new pools of capital and expertise for startups and investors across the venture capital ecosystem, while driving better returns for the portfolio. 

“BDC Capital has been a valued partner to Highline Beta since inception,” said Jerome Nycz, Executive Vice-President, BDC Capital. “Highline Beta has taken an innovative approach to scaling startups with global enterprises and funding world-class entrepreneurs, and we are supportive of their efforts to drive growth through diversity in the Canadian venture capital ecosystem.”

Co-Creating startups with leading corporations creates true unfair advantage, leading to unique investment opportunities

“Corporate executives know it’s not easy to innovate from within. We believe large companies should take a balanced approach by also building a portfolio of venture profile investments on the outside. We empower external startups to work effectively with corporate partners to pursue the creation of truly scalable opportunities that couldn’t be imagined without either stakeholder being deeply committed,” says Ben Yoskovitz, Highline Beta’s Founding Partner and co-author of Lean Analytics

Startups that go through corporate accelerators and commercialization programs powered by Highline Beta are driving the future of corporate growth. RBC, AB InBev’s 100+ Sustainability Accelerator and Safe x Connected Cities with Aviva Canada generate early entry-points to deal flow not accessible to traditional institutional investors. 

“RBC is working with Highline Beta to take a startup-centric approach to tackle some of the most interesting opportunities to serve Canadians,” says Mike Dobbins, Chief Strategy & Corporate Development Officer, RBC. “An investment in The Fund allows RBC to extend our commitment to the startup collaboration model championed by Highline Beta and provides a way for RBC to continue to support these newly-created companies to create differentiated value for our clients.”

Highline Beta Fund’s investment and platform operating team

The Highline Beta investment team (Marcus Daniels, Lauren Robinson and Benjamin Yoskovitz) are well known in the North American innovation ecosystem as successful founders, operators, investors and accelerator leaders. Specifically, the Highline Beta investment team has a proven track record for investing (both as individuals, and leading Highline VC) at the pre-seed stage and helping to harvest portfolio company returns to investors. The firm’s investment strategy takes the best lessons learned from investing in over 60 startups, many scaling internationally and attracting follow-on capital from top-tier US investors coupled with a proven new model for corporate innovation. 

Unlike many other startup studios, Highline Beta’s growing platform consists of a hands-on team of 30+ new venture developers (strategic design, engineering, product, marketing and growth professionals), Executives-In-Residence, Founders-In-Residence and operators. Highline Beta currently operates out of Toronto, Vancouver and New York, with several new ecosystems and senior team members to be announced in 2020 where corporate-startup engagements have already commenced.

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About Highline Beta 

Highline Beta builds and funds new ventures with forward-thinking global enterprises. Combining the industry experience of enterprises, agility of startups, and methodology of investors, Highline Beta is building a new model for corporate innovation and venture capital. We help assess market and industry opportunities, kickstart accelerators, initiate strategic collaborations and spark venture investment to unlock innovation and drive growth. Read more: https://highlinebeta.com/

About Female Funders

Female Funders is an online education platform, providing access to deal flow and a global community of female investors and innovators. We are on a mission to empower thousands of women to become active angel investors by 2025, through blended education (in-person & online), syndicated deals and building a global female investor community in key startup ecosystems. Female Funders is powered by Highline Beta. Read more: https://www.femalefunders.com

About Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative

Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI) is a $450 million Federal government program backed by the Government of Canada to strengthen the local venture capital ecosystem, and help Canadian companies scale. VCCI Stream 1 invested in large funds-of-funds that will support Canadian VC fund managers, while VCCI Stream 2 invested in emerging and diverse managers, underserved regions and sectors, and alternative fund structures. VCCI Stream 3 invested in VC funds investing primarily in clean technology firms. Read more: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/03073.html  

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