Press Release: Sidewalk Labs and Plaza Ventures Team Up on Next Steps to Establish an Urban Tech Fund for Canadian Companies

TORONTO  |  November 26, 2019  |  For Immediate Release

Toronto, ON – Sidewalk Labs and Plaza Ventures are partnering to take the next steps on establishing a venture capital fund called Quayside Venture Partners (QVP). QVP would invest in early-stage Canadian urban technology companies that are focused on addressing urban challenges like traffic congestion, housing affordability, and sustainability. The fund will also create three advisory networks of Canadian industry experts and C-level executives with deep experience in this sector to support these companies such as Michele Romanow (President, Clearbanc), Tony Lacavera (Chairman, Globalive), and Ben Zifkin (CEO, Hubba).

“Canada is already a leader in urban tech innovation. We’ve seen great successes like MioVision, Ecobee, and Transit, all of which have been able to build and scale their companies in Canada,” said Nicole LeBlanc, Sidewalk Labs’ Director of Investments. “This fund is meant to empower Canada’s growing urban tech ecosystem to take advantage of our Toronto project and to scale up as the Quayside neighbourhood Toronto project is built.”

QVP, in collaboration with its partners, would help early-stage companies scale more quickly, providing more opportunity to grow larger, both at home and internationally. The fund would launch and make investments next year if the Sidewalk Toronto project is approved by Waterfront Toronto and governments. QVP would begin working now with the market to identify key areas of urban tech that can be supported with capital and other resources to launch and scale.

“Our mission at Plaza Ventures is to connect growing companies to a wealth of knowledge and capital from successful investors. This is an opportunity to do just that for Canada’s urban tech community. This fund could support Canadian urban technology companies, build the ecosystem, and transform Toronto and Canada into the global urban technology hub.”

– Matthew Leibowitz, Plaza Ventures’ General Partner

In its proposal for Quayside, Sidewalk Labs made a commitment to catalyze an early-stage urban technology venture fund. Building on this initiative, QVP is already seeing interest from Canadian corporate innovation arms and respected individuals to grow the fund. It is expected that Canadian investors would make up at least 50 percent of the fund. Consistent with standard fund strategies, assuming a successful deployment of the initial fund, Sidewalk Labs and its partners anticipate raising additional funds that can further support the scale-up of the Canadian urban tech ecosystem as it continues to evolve and mature.

The fund would also establish three advisory networks:

  • Corporate Innovation Network
    A platform for some of Canada’s largest corporations to come together to support and invest in urban technology companies;
  • Advisory Network
    Advising on fund strategy, offering their expertise on current trends and best practices for scaling companies looking to reach global markets; and
  • Venture Network
    Enabling some of Canada’s most notable scaling technology CEOs to provide mentorship to portfolio companies and help urban tech founders grow and scale their companies.

Overall they will assist with a wide range of topics, from implementing responsible data use practices to building out a marketing team. These experts would include leaders in technology fields, as well as active CEOs of growth-stage startups who can help support the next generation.

Urban tech startups today face numerous challenges such as long pilot and procurement cycles, higher financing needs due to hardware requirements, lack of standardization making implementation bespoke, and data silos that make scaling difficult. QVP will aim to address these issues by providing capital, access to corporate customers, and mentorship from experienced tech CEOs.

The Fund also intends to partner closely with incubators and accelerators to further the development of relevant programs and support for urban technology focused on start-ups and scale-ups. This can plug directly into the current activities of institutions like Communitech, Techstars, Creative Destruction Lab, and others, which are regularly identifying and supporting ventures ripe for investment. 

About Sidewalk Labs

Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company, founded in 2015, that aims to combine world-class urban design with cutting-edge technology to set new standards of sustainability, affordability, and economic opportunity for people of all incomes, abilities, and ages. Sidewalk has offices in New York and Toronto, with more than 30 full-time employees now based in Toronto.

About Plaza Ventures

The Plazacorp family office has been active in tech investments since the mid-90’s, investing in dozens of start-ups in a range of industry sectors. In 2008, Plaza Ventures was formed to include outside capital from HNW investors in a formalized investment club.

PV’s community-oriented philosophy embraces group ethos decision-making, recognizing the value of each team member’s unique perspective in every file that we explore. Our general partners directly support each portfolio company with their time, connections and expertise. Adding to this support, we encourage our tremendous roster of investment partners, our LPs, to contribute to our shared success with their own networks and knowledge. Our whole community benefits from alignment, transparency and mutual trust.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Keerthana Rang, Sidewalk Labs


Ashley Thistlethwaite, Plaza Ventures

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