MaRS Catalyst Fund becomes Amplify Capital, launches $30 mln fund

MaRS Catalyst Fund, a Toronto-based early-stage impact fund created in collaboration with MaRS Discovery District, has rebranded as Amplify Capital and launched a new fund. The fund has a target size of $30 million and is seeking an initial close by early 2020. MaRS Catalyst Fund was launched in 2016 with the backing of Virgin Unite, as well as other investors, including Chawkers Foundation, Fondaction, J. W. McConnell Family Foundation and Lino et Mirella Saputo Foundation. It made nine investments in Ontario and Québec.


Amplify Capital Announces Fund 2 with a target of $30M for Impact Investments

MaRS Catalyst Fund rebrands to Amplify Capital and launches a new impact fund

Amplify Capital spins out of MaRS, and Fund II target size is six times larger than Fund I

TORONTO, Oct. 7, 2019 – Amplify Capital, a seed stage firm investing in impact tech ventures, has launched a second fund after building a successful track record with its inaugural MaRS Catalyst Fund. The new fund has a target size of $30 million and is seeking to close its first commitments by early 2020.

The MaRS Catalyst Fund was launched in 2016, and it was one of the first early stage impact venture funds in Canada. The fund was incubated and supported at the MaRS Discovery District, and due to its success and impressive returns, Amplify Capital is able to spin out of MaRS and launch the next fund independently.

“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,” said Kathryn Wortsman, general partner of Amplify Capital. “It’s no surprise that our returns are in line with the market as impact businesses have key strategic advantages: 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.”

The market for impact investing in Canada is growing. According to the Responsible Investment Association, assets under management in impact investing grew by 81 percent to $14.75 billion in the two years prior to end of 2017. This is further compounded by the increasingly urgent social and environmental problems that the fund hopes to address through its strategic investments.

Launched in 2016, the MaRS Catalyst Fund was first seeded by Virgin Unite, and early investors included the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, Lino et Mirella Saputo Foundation, the Chawkers Foundation, and family offices.

Fondaction, a $2 billion Quebec sponsored labour fund that is committed to responsible investment, also became a large investor in the MaRS Catalyst Fund. “We were thrilled to partner with MaRS, a significant contributor to the venture ecosystem on a national scale,” said Marc-André Binette, senior portfolio manager at Fondaction. “From its very beginning, Fondaction has been committed to socially-responsible finance and looking for the triple bottom line: social, environmental and financial.”

“Virgin Unite was thrilled to be a cornerstone investor in Fund I and see how strong the portfolio is today,” said Andrew Bridge, co-founder and partner, BrandProject and Trustee Virgin Unite Canada. “Impact investing in Canada has come a long way and we think the MaRS Catalyst Fund was a strong contributor. It is great to see that the Catalyst Fund is raising a larger second fund.”

MaRS Catalyst fund has nine investments across Ontario and Quebec. Two of the companies in the portfolio have raised follow-on rounds at significantly higher valuations from the fund’s initial investment, including Hydrostor, which has raised a follow-on strategic round of $49M. ClassCraft is another portfolio company that has raised $10M in a Series A. Other investments in Fund I include, Inkblot Therapy, Flosonics, ChallengeU and Invivo.AI.

Amplify Capital seeks to co-invest or lead in deals at the seed stage when the company is building momentum to scale. Amplify will help companies build an impact measurement tool to help clarify and measure the company’s outcomes as a result of its product or service. These outcomes are things like improved health outcomes, greenhouse gas reductions, and attained skills.

By measuring the impact outcomes, the companies gain a tool that clarifies their customer value proposition. In addition, Amplify will support its companies by implementing high environmental, social and governance standards by assisting them through the B Corp review process. By solving large social and environmental problems and layering in these impact tools, Amplify believes it can achieve outsized returns.

To qualify for investments from Amplify, companies must have a business model that creates a social or environmental impact with every product or service delivered. The fund has a focus on health, education and cleantech technologies. Specifically, Amplify is targeting quantifiable outcomes in improvements in health in patients, skills attained by student populations, and specific GHG reduction targets.

The Fund’s impact investment strategy is in line with three of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals: good health, quality education, and climate action.

About Amplify Capital:

Amplify Capital is an independent seed stage impact venture fund based in Toronto. Focused on Canadian impact ventures, Amplify Capital invests in health, education, and cleantech companies that deliver both social and financial returns. Amplify Capital is the successor fund to MaRS Catalyst Fund, an early stage impact fund created in collaboration with MaRS Discovery District with the cornerstone investment from Virgin Unite Canada in 2016.

For press inquiries:

Kathryn Wortsman,General Partner