Introducing Calvin Milbury
Great innovations and inventions sometimes come from the smallest places. Take the Boiling Point’s home province of New Brunswick. This small province has been the home to things such as the snow blower, and the scuba tank. Don’t forget the other New Brunswick innovation that affects all of our daily lives, the vortex flushing toilet.
Our guest, Calvin Milbury is the man in charge of making sure the next big New Brunswick innovation gets the launch pad it needs to succeed. Calvin is the president and CEO of the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit organization that was initially funded by the provincial government, which offers seed money and credibility to start-up companies doing unique things.
Originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Calvin studied biochemistry at the University of New Brunswick and then went on to get his masters of business administration. His first job was with a national venture capital firm where he was responsible for arranging early stage investments in biotech that was generally based on new technologies being developed by universities across the country. At around the same time, the New Brunswick government launched the NBIF as a catalyst to develop innovation with a $20 million seed investment. Initially this money was to be used in two ways. First, it was to invest into applied research and aid in research and development at the regions universities and community colleges. Secondly, it was used to back entrepreneurial ventures, not just with grants and loans, but instead with equity investment.
The NBIF heard about the work Calvin was doing in Montreal at the time and offered him a job as a director of business development, which he took. By 2009, the economy had turned and due to a restricting at NBIF, Calvin became their president and CEO. Under Calvin’s leadership, the NBIF was able to bring in an additional $60 million of financing, bringing their total financing capabilities to $120 million. The NBIF has also added new programs including a graduate scholarship program and an innovation research chair program that brings top researchers to the province to work with industry in research and development. An important aspect to the NBIF is that it works as a separate body from government and that politics have been removed from funding decisions, allowing everyone an opportunity to receive funding. One of the NBIF’s greatest success stories was the social media monitoring company, Radian 6. An investment of $376,000 by the NBIF along with other investors helped the company go from zero to 350 employees and tens of millions in sales. Radian 6 was then sold to SalesForce.com for US $370 million, netting the NBIF $9.5 million and a 28 times return.
In this episode
Calvin tells us the great things that are happening at the NBIF, and how you could have your innovative idea taken to the next level. Dave finds the NBIF funding process to be helpful to up start entrepreneurs to get prepared for the big bad world. Greg reminds us of his experience with the NBIF and appreciates how they get companies “sale ready”. Everyone discusses his own favorite New Brunswick invention.
Hemmings House’s commercials for the NBIF