Media Releases


PROVINCE INVESTS IN BIOTECHNOLOGY FUND

October 19, 2000

A $42 million biotechnology investment fund has been established to promote the creation and start-up of advanced agricultural technology ventures in the agri-food and agri-biotechnology sectors.

Royal Bank Ventures Inc., SGF Soquia Inc., and the Government of Saskatchewan, who are equal partners in the fund, launched Foragen Technologies Management Inc. today.

The announcement was made in Saskatoon by Crown Investments Corporation Minister John Nilson and Economic and Co-operative Development Minister Janice MacKinnon, representing the Government of Saskatchewan; Susan Smith, President and CEO of Royal Bank Ventures Inc.; and Robert Kieffer, Member of the Quebec National Assembly and Parliamentary Assistant to the Quebec Deputy Premier Bernard Landry.

Foragen's mandate is to promote venture creation by offering seed capital, technology management advice and networking opportunities that will allow entrepreneurs to concentrate on developing their technologies.

Foragen is owned equally by Royal Bank Ventures Inc. (RB Ventures); Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (CIC) and the Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation (SOCO); and SGF Soquia Inc. Each partner has committed to invest up to $14 million. Foragen has offices in Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan's contribution will come from a $9 million investment from CIC and a $5 million investment from SOCO. SOCO will manage the government's investment.

"Saskatchewan is one of the leading players in the agriculture biotechnology sector in Canada with more than one-third of all biotech companies located in Saskatoon," Nilson said. "Our investment in Foragen will help us strengthen this position. Agricultural biotechnology is one of the sectors that CIC targets with its investment strategy. We hope that our investment in Foragen will encourage other investors to support this growing sector of our economy."

"Foragen Technologies will help turn research into reality, translating ideas from our labs into companies that create products for the world and jobs for Saskatchewan people," MacKinnon said. "Our investment helps further the commercialization of new technologies and the diversification of our agricultural sector."

"As the founder of Foragen a year and a half ago, we are very pleased to have two partners so committed to agri-science joining Royal Bank in launching Foragen Technologies today," Smith said. "Our combined commitment will help keep Canadian agri-sciences innovations and intellectual property in Canada. Foragen will seek out research in Canadian lab benches and build sustainable, global agri-science companies. As far as we know, Foragen is the first fund of its kind in North America, and possibly the world."

"Information and technology businesses are an important component of our future development capital," Kieffer said. "SGF Soquia's involvement in Foragen will allow Quebec to increase its competitiveness and have access to a pool of business opportunities in the food biotechnology field." Kieffer also praised the partnership with Ontario and Saskatchewan, which are among the most important technology growth centres in Canada's bio-food sector.

Royal Bank Ventures Inc. is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada, a diversified global financial services group and a leading provider of personal and commercial banking, investment and trust services, insurance, corporate and investment banking, on-line banking and transaction-based services.

SGF Soquia Inc. is a subsidiary of the Societe generale de financement du Quebec. Its mission is to carry out economic development projects, in co-operation with partners and based on normal conditions of profitability. SGF has 40 international partners with activities in Quebec.

-30-

Jean-Yves Duthel
Vice-president
Communications and Public Relations
SGF
(514) 876-9290

Judy Dobbs
Manager
Strategic Communications
Royal Bank Ventures Inc.
(416) 974-1755

Hubert Bolduc
Press Attache
Cabinet of Minister Landry
(418) 643-5270
(514) 499-2551

Ted Boyle
Executive Director, Communications
CIC
(306) 787-9039