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Sudbury's $5.3M Catalyst Fund gives entrepreneurs a leg up

An estimated 60 jobs will be created thanks to the new fund

Sudbury business startups will get a leg up through a new pool of money called the Sudbury Catalyst Fund.

The fund, a five-year pilot project, is being administered by the Nickel Basin Development Corp. and its community partners, which include the Greater Sudbury Development Corp. and NORCAT.

Funding for the project comes from FedNor ($3.3 million), the Nickel Basin Development Corp. ($1 million), and the Greater Sudbury Development Corp. ($1 million).

The fund is designed to help “businesses that want to either start up in Sudbury or expand in the Sudbury area,” said Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre at the Feb. 12 launch of the fund.

These aspiring businesspeople have great ideas, but sometimes they need access to capital, and sometimes the bank will not give it to them, he said.

While he and Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré, who was also at the launch, advocated for the federal funds, Lefebvre said the government is “getting out of the way,” and it's up to the business community to figure out how to invest it.

“That's why we have full confidence that it will be very successful,” he said.

The fund will provide investments of up to $250,000 to qualifying early-stage and innovative firms operating within Greater Sudbury.

Once complete, the pilot project is expected to help up to 20 startup companies expand, allowing them to develop and commercialize new products and technologies, while creating up to 60 full-time, high-quality local jobs. 

NORCAT CEO Don Duval said from his experience, startup companies need access to mentorship, talent, customers, partners, and capital.

Sudbury Catalyst Fund seeks to provide them with that crucial capital as they develop their business.

Those dollars will be leveraged through “high net-worth individuals” who are part of NORCAT's angel investor program.

There are around 40 active angel investors in Greater Sudbury that have a demonstrated track record of investing in early-stage and innovative companies based in Northern Ontario.

NORCAT is working with some “really good, interesting startup tech ventures” as part of its role as an innovation centre, said Duval.

They “just need access to a little bit of capital to get going,” he said. “That is the beauty of this fund and the purpose that it serves … The pool of companies we have right now, I think it's only going to get better.

“You're going to see some meaningful growth. You're going to see some meaningful and sustainable job and wealth creation for our community. So we're very excited about the role we get to play.”