Sherbrooke Innopole concludes partnership agreement with Desjardins aimed at
supporting innovative Sherbrooke companies

SHERBROOKE, QC, July 8 /CNW Telbec/ - A major partnership between Sherbrooke Innopole and Desjardins Venture Capital, the venture capital fund management arm of Desjardins Group, through Innovatech S.E.C., was announced in the presence of numerous stakeholders of Sherbrooke's socio-economic sector and representatives from different levels of government. Both corporations are combining forces to create a program for innovative entrepreneurship which will support investments, of up to $7M over a five-year period, in Sherbrooke companies who are at initial start-up phases and who are active in the 5 key sectors identified by Sherbrooke Innopole.

This alliance represents a mutual agreement whereby both organizations will work together financing leading projects for the Sherbrooke region. Mr. Pierre Bélanger, Director General for Sherbrooke Innopole, states, "We target start-up companies which are active in one of our 5 key sectors: Life Sciences, Information and Communication Technologies, Clean Technologies and Sustainable Development, Micro-Nanotechnologies, and Advanced Manufacturing; companies whose financial needs vary between $250,000 and $1M. Our goal is to finance 3 to 5 leading projects annually. This partnership agreement is renewable, insofar as this initiative provides the stimulus to propel the growth of added-value companies in Sherbrooke."

A simplified investment process

Developed over a 2-month period, the investment process initiated by both organizations is simple and effective. Ms. Manon Laporte, President of Sherbrooke Innopole, elaborates, "Within this partnership, Sherbrooke Innopole will be at the forefront of providing support and guidance to entrepreneurs, continuing its present involvement in these matters, whereas Desjardins-Innovatech will ensure the financial negotiating process and finalizing stages with the companies."

Concretely, targeting companies will be jointly performed by both organizations. Sherbrooke Innopole will proceed to take charge of the project, providing the support framework required in developing a solid business plan as well as project validation by an advisory committee composed of experts from the various sectors. The financing offer and due diligence verifications will be ensured by Desjardins-Innovatech, who will then provide project financing of up to 75%, with the remaining 25% provided by Sherbrooke Innopole. Asset management will be jointly handled.

A first in Québec

Ms. Marie-Claude Boisvert, Desjardins Venture Capital Chief Operating Officer, states, "Desjardins is proud to be part of this partnership, thereby contributing to innovative company development and expansion in the city of Sherbrooke. We firmly believe that in addition to promoting added-value business development in the 5 key sectors, this agreement will be a key driver for Sherbrooke economic growth on all levels: local, regional, and international."

Sherbrooke's mayor, Mr. Bernard Sévigny, who attended the event, also commented on this important initiative involving the creation of a new and powerful economic lever in Sherbrooke. "This is phenomenal news for Sherbrooke's economic structure! Providing access to capital for supporting the start-up projects of local entrepreneurs is akin to the missing link in propelling the current economy to high economic growth. We were already in the presence of highly dynamic companies, emerging entrepreneurs focused on innovation, and state-of-the-art facilities to successfully support industry-university alliance research projects. We now have access to financial support, crucial in enabling entrepreneurs to launch their business projects at a critical phase in their development, for which limited capital had been available until now. I applaud Sherbrooke Innopole's management team, whose perseverance and hard work will give Sherbrooke economy the opportunities to take its rightful position - a leadership position in innovation."

Ms. Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, President of the Treasury Board, Minister responsible for the Estrie region, and MNA of Saint-François, also rejoiced at the news. "The joint initiative of Sherbrooke Innopole and Desjardins-Innovatech in providing the region with this crucial tool for the development of its new economy could not happen at a better time. The Estrie region now holds a key driver for stimulating new knowledge-based economy. This initiative is the perfect example of taking charge of a region where its stakeholders share common vision and goals."

About Sherbrooke Innopole

As Local Development Centre (CLD) of the MRC of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke Innopole ensures innovative, harmonious, and dynamic economic development based on the creation of businesses resulting from research and the ingenuity of Sherbrooke citizens, all the while maintaining its support for the growth of existing companies in the Propulsive services and Manufacturing sectors.

Mobilization and concertation are top priorities for Sherbrooke Innopole which already enjoys high-level recognition and partnerships with key players in economic development. These priorities support a vision of sustainable development and profitable growth for the Sherbrooke region, solidly anchored in a key-sector strategy which provides the very foundation upon which Sherbrooke, City of Innovation will be built.

About Desjardins-Innovatech S.E.C.

This company was created in July 2005 through a joint initiative of the Government of Québec and Desjardins Capital régional et coopératif. Its assets are managed by Desjardins Capital Venture. Innovatech S.E.C. activities in the region of Sherbrooke were initiated in 2008 and consist mainly in investing in start-up or phase one development companies, particularly those involving technological innovation or companies in the Industrial sector.

SOURCE SHERBROOKE INNOPOLE

For further information: For further information: Source for Sherbrooke Innopole: Daniel Nadeau, Vice-President and Director General, Nadeau Bellavance, 819 562-9998, dnadeau@nadeaubellavance.com; Source for Desjardins Group: André Chapleau, Director, Media Relations, Desjardins Group, 514 281-7229, 1 866 866-7000, ext. 7229, andre.chapleau@desjardins.com

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SHERBROOKE INNOPOLE

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Desjardins Venture Capital

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