OMERS Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement System, has launched a €300 million fund (about $340 million) to invest in Europe.
OMERS Ventures announced Monday that it has hired Harry Briggs to take on the role of managing partner. Briggs is a former partner at BGF Ventures, the venture capital arm of investment firm BGF.
“We have seen the European tech sector reach escape velocity over the past couple of years, producing more and more companies of worldwide renown,” said OMERS Ventures’ managing partner and head of ventures, Damien Steel, in the announcement.
Steel added that launching its European fund is the “next step” in its global expansion strategy. This move comes about two months after the OMERS opened its Silicon Valley office, according to the announcement.
OMERS Ventures, which manages C$800 million ($596 million), will make investments ranging from $5 million to $10 million from its European fund, a spokesperson said via email Monday. The European fund will focus on multi-stage firms, with a “sweet spot” in series A and series B funding rounds, the spokesperson said.
The firm plans to invest in six to ten companies a year, with capacity to follow on “strongly” in later fundraising rounds, according to the spokesperson. OMERS Ventures will focus on three key sectors when investing: health technology, “the future of work,” and financial technology.
According to the spokesperson, OMERS investments in infrastructure and property make it well poised to focus on the future of work, while Europe being home to some of the top universities in the world make investing in health technology attractive. As for fintech, the spokesperson said the OMERS Venture team has “deep expertise” in the sector.
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“What fascinated me about OMERS is that they’ve seen this dynamic play out in three asset classes already,” Briggs said in a Medium post published Monday. He pointed to OMERS’ experience growing in the infrastructure, private equity, and real estate asset classes as evidence that the firm will do well in venture capital.
“For company founders striving to transform industries, OMERS’ deep experience and connections across the likes of mobility, healthcare, and real estate will be a huge advantage — whilst our Ventures’ perspective on disruptive startups can help inform investments by the rest of OMERS,” he added.
Prior to joining BGF, where he worked for three years, Briggs worked for European venture firm Balderton Capital for almost six years, according to the OMERS Ventures announcement.