At the Leading Edge of Canada’s Entrepreneurial Drive
Jet fuel from mustard seeds? Quantum computers? The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) takes disruptive innovative technology and invests in it. “We are the only financial institution in Canada that focuses exclusively on entrepreneurs,” said BDC President and CEO Michael Denham.
With 112 business centers across Canada, a total portfolio of CAD $26 billion, and more than 42,000 clients, BDC offers loans, equity, and advisory services to small and mid-sized businesses.
With lower costs of real estate and labor than the United States and a competitive tech-savvy workforce, Canada is an attractive option for entrepreneurs and investors from North America and beyond.
Giving a Hand to Some Big Players in the Industry
The investment arm of BDC— BDC Capital—was one of the first investors in D-Wave, the makers of quantum computers that now serve clients such as Google and the US Department of Defense. Meanwhile, BDC Capital’s investments in clean energy companies include Vancouver-based nuclear fusion venture General Fusion and a Quebec company that makes jet fuel out of mustard seeds—Agrisoma.
Financing Innovators from Startup and Scale Up to Tyin’ It Up
BDC provides access to capital for innovative companies at all stages of growth—from startup to exit. This includes a full range of financing for established businesses investing in technology, purchasing equipment, or developing new products and services, as well as venture capital for startups and companies that want to scale up—with a particular focus on clean tech, healthcare, and information technology.
By partnering with top accelerators, tech clusters, and private funds, BDC plays a central role in fostering a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Canada.
Its active role in the innovation ecosystem led the Canadian government to call on BDC Capital to manage the CAD $1.35 billion Venture Capital Action Plan. Launched in 2013, the plan was designed to serve as a catalyst for the Canadian venture capital scene.
Not Your Average Bank
BDC also offers a full range of non-financial services helping small and medium-sized businesses be more profitable, increase sales, and improve their management capabilities.
Getting more Canadian businesses to compete on the global stage is another key focus. “We help companies figure out their export strategies, what skills they need, what markets to target, how to get to those markets, and what distribution channels to use,” explained Denham.
Canada’s First Certified B Corp Bank
BDC is the first financial institution in Canada to receive the prestigious Beneficial Corporation (B Corp) certification. To be certified, companies must meet high standards of purpose, transparency, and accountability. The bank now takes a leading role in supporting other Canadian businesses seeking to obtain B Corp certification.
In addition, BDC has accelerated its efforts to lend to new immigrant entrepreneurs who may lack a credit history. With research showing that immigrants are twice as likely as other Canadians to launch a new business, BDC has embraced this demographic in its lending practices. The company has also launched initiatives to reach other groups who have more difficulty obtaining business financing such as military veterans, women business owners, and people with mental health issues.