OMERS Ventures, with new SV office, speeds effort to build global platform

OMERS Ventures, the VC arm of the $95 billion Canadian pension fund OMERS, is accelerating an ambitious strategy to establish itself as a global platform.

OV is eyeing vistas in the U.S. and Europe with the goal of getting “feet on the street” in key tech hubs, Head of Ventures Damien Steel said.

The strategy was put into action in January as the firm opened an office in Silicon Valley.

To run it, Michael Yang, formerly managing director of Comcast Ventures, was hired as a managing partner.

Steel, tapped to lead OV in October, said Yang and Principal Michelle Killoran will form the nucleus of a team that will “drive OV’s access to the best VC deals,” not only in Silicon Valley but across the U.S.

As a next step, OV will begin evaluating opportunities in Europe.

Steel expects this process to result in an OV presence in London, where OMERS already has an office. As in Silicon Valley, a U.K. operation would focus on creating broad exposure to regional deal flow.

OV was founded in 2011 as a life-cycle partner to Canadian tech companies, making it one of the world’s only VC pools housed inside a major pension fund.

Steel says building a presence outside Canada marks a “natural progression” that will enable OV to diversify opportunities and become more “thematically driven.”

“OMERS Ventures has proven the model in our own backyard,” he said. “Now to really be successful, to really drive returns, we need to expand our reach and create Canada’s first global VC platform.”

This story originally appeared in Venture Capital Journal, published by Buyouts Insider. Subscribers can read the full story by clicking here. To subscribe to Venture Capital Journal, click here.