OMERS Ventures exits European market

OMERS Ventures withdraws European presence amid decline in tech investment

OMERS Ventures exits European market

OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Ontario municipal employees defined benefit (DB) pension plan, has decided to withdraw its presence from Europe, marking a shift in global investment strategy as European Union (EU) tech funding experiences a downturn. 

The venture unit had launched a $332 million fund in 2019, dedicated to nurturing European startups. A spokesperson from the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) confirmed this exit to Bloomberg, citing a refocusing of efforts on the North American market. 

“Decisions to say goodbye to valued colleagues and friends are difficult, but we prioritize all our investment decisions to deliver on our pension promise, and doing what we believe to be in the best interest of our plan members,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg in an email. 

Just a few years ago, European tech investment experienced a surge, buoyed by substantial inflows from the US, Canada, and Asia. However, recent data from PitchBook, a capital markets research company, reveals a stark contrast, with venture financing plummeting approximately 60% during the second quarter of this year compared to the previous year, amounting to €12.3 billion. 

While OMERS emphasized its unwavering commitment to early-stage venture investments, the focus is now directed towards bolstering endeavours in North America. The pension plan's investment track record boasts $2.5 billion injected into fledgling enterprises. 

OMERS Ventures, established in 2011, made significant contributions to the Canadian tech landscape by backing companies such as Shopify and Hootsuite. In 2019, Bloomberg News reported investments of €76 million in European enterprises. The firm had also enlisted the expertise of European investors from Balderton Capital and Uber Technologies Inc.