The incredible event brought together a diverse crowd of companies, investors, providers, industry experts and leaders in the crowdfunding, financial technology (FinTech) and alternative finance (AltFi) sectors.
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa officially opened the summit and endorsed the emerging Crowdfunding industry, while Michael Bancroft, executive producer of Bloomberg Canada TV, was the Master of Ceremonies.
More than 75 speakers
The event featured high-profile keynotes and more than 75 speakers, 30 sessions and 12 pitching companies throughout the day.
Following are the top five messages from Minister Sousa’s perspective:
1. The Ontario government is very supportive of crowdfunding and the Ministry of Finance has listened to the stakeholders on how government could show itself to be nimble in the face of fast-moving, merging industries of the future. In mid-December, Minister Sousa approved several new prospectus exemptions proposedby the Ontario Securities Commission, which enable businesses – in particular, early Stage 1 – to raise capital in newer and more innovative ways, while maintaining appropriate investor protection.
Crowdfunding industry growing
2. Minister Sousa reiterated growth prospects of the crowdfunding industry. Massolution’s 2015 Crowdfunding Industry Report estimates global crowdfunding grew by 167 per cent in 2014, to $16.2 billion. It predicted it would more than double in 2015, to $34.4 billion.
3. From Minister Sousa’s perspective, helping businesses get off the ground and scale up is part of the Ontario government’s strategy to grow the economy and create jobs. The new offering memorandum exemption, which came into effect in Ontario in January, allows small businesses to raise larger amounts of capital than in crowdfunding and in a more cost-effective manner than a public offering.
4. The Ontario government recently launched the Business Growth Initiative – a five-year, $400-million dollar investment to increase the province’s global competitiveness. This entails helping develop and commercialize disruptive technologies in key economic sectors. Part of this investment will fund $35 million over the next five years to establish a $50-million partnership in the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, which will include McMaster, Waterloo and Western Universities.
5. The government is also creating a program to provide vouchers to leading high-growth firms to help them get their products to global markets. These vouchers can be used for activities such as market research, proof-of-concept testing and securing new export customers. The minister confidently indicated that over the next 36 months, Ontario is on track to create more than 900,000 net new jobs since the depths of the recession.