A Toronto-based venture capital fund has its eyes on Sudbury, as it looks to expand into the city.
RiSC Capital co-founder Scott Pelton was in town this week to meet with local leaders in the mining technology sector and scope out potential investments for his two-year-old company.
Pelton, who has made more than 50 investments since he began his career in 2000, said his company views Sudbury as a potentially fruitful area of opportunity, due to the tech innovation research happening throughout the city.
“We see a lot of amazing research in this community, and we want to see if we can commercialize some of it,” said Pelton. “We want to take on big technical problems, and hopefully give (entrepreneurs) $500,000 to help them grow.”
Since launching in 2020, RiSC Capital has invested $10.7 million in six Canadian tech start-ups. According to Pelton, those investments account for about 25 per cent of their funds. Over the next two years, they’re planning to invest an additional 25 per cent into 12 to 14 projects.
“Our focus is on commercializing university research,” said Pelton. “(It’s about) getting inside the entrepreneur’s head, learning about their dreams, and trying to get a sense for how much money it will take to make their dreams possible.”
One of their investments is a neuro-tech start-up called Brink Bionics, which commercialized research from the University of Waterloo to create gaming hardware to improve the reaction time of esports athletes.
Following the success of the company’s Impulse Neurocontroller product, Brink now intends to relocate to Sudbury and expand into the mining technology sector.
According to Pelton, Brink will now be aiming to adapt its technology to develop a prototype to address fatigue in miners.
“We think that’s why our trip today is so important,” he said. “Figuring out if people’s muscles are reacting the way they should, or if they’re tired (with) their heavy equipment jobs. We’ve proven that the technology works fine in esports, so we’re working to look at this next use case.”
Tim Peters, who lives in Sudbury and has worked in technology for 20 years, has been facilitating RiSC’s expansion into the city.
“We met with a lot of folks today, from Cambrian College, and the Centre for Mining Innovation, and they’re doing a lot of neat things,” he said. “Venture capital can be competitive, so sometimes we want to go find deals and meet and partner with folks early.”
He added that Brink’s relocation would be helped along by the Innovation Quarters program, which recently opened its downtown co-working space, and is set to support local technology start-ups looking to grow and improve.
“We’re just hearing good things about the ecosystem, especially with the grand opening of IQ,” said Peters. “The more we can get our name out there, the more we can maybe meet the next big Canadian success story. We’ve got to get out in the community and meet entrepreneurs to see how we can help.”
According to Pelton, Brink will soon be looking to recruit office staff to assist with the company’s managerial responsibilities as it establishes itself in Sudbury.
RiSC will also be looking for local entrepreneurs in the tech space with interesting and potentially impactful ideas. Investments may range from $250,000 to $500,000. Anyone with a pitch is invited to contact RiSC online at risccap.com.
The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.
Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star