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Cisco invests $150M in Canadian tech startups

Cisco Canada is putting $150 million into venture capital funds, incubators and technology startups in the country.

The company said its Cisco Canada Innovation Program will cover mix technologies, businesses and investment stages over a period of 10 years as part of a strategy to actively engage with investment partners and startups to “mentor and develop new leaders and innovations.”

“Cisco believes there is a tremendous opportunity for growth and prosperity in Canada’s innovation engine,” said Nitin Kawale, president, Cisco Canada yesterday. “ Canada continues to produce some of the top engineering and management talent in the world and is home to dynamic industries that are ripe for business transformation.”

Joe Oliver, Canada’s finance minister who was with Kawale during the announcement, said Cisco Canada’s investment will create jobs across Canada and help turn the country’s entrepreneurs into “the business leaders of tomorrow.”

The program will focus on three key areas:
• Direct Technology Sector Investment: will investigate opportunities in areas such as cloud infrastructure, digital media, big data/analytics/information management, intelligent infrastructure and mobility
• Venture Capital Investment: will drive the innovation engine in the country, cover a broad spectrum of technology, provide Cisco with visibility into the Canadian start-up community and build on Cisco’s relationship with the Canadian government
• Working with Incubators: will provide mentorship and technology support to early-stage companies to stimulate industrial, service provider, and enterprise solutions

Cisco currently has an active portfolio of US$2 billion with over 80 direct investments around the world, and we also hold Limited Partner positions in over 35 funds globally.

Cisco has a lead role in developing Toronto’s Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Centre at RBC WaterPark Place in Toronto, a building that will be in operation by 2015. The company estimates that the IoE market will be worth more than $19 billion over the next 10 years.

The finance minister said there is a lack of venture capital for early stage firms in the country and more private funding was needed to boost innovation.

“This is a private sector initiative, we think this is the best kind of initiative for advancing this sector,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the private sector that’s going to be the key driver of this.”