RBCx enters the battle to fuel Canadian tech and innovation

RBC, Canada's largest bank, launched a revamped suite of services to help the country's booming tech sector.

In a move to capitalize on Canadian tech’s dizzying growth as an industry, the Royal Bank of Canada has launched a new platform and suite of services and capital solutions to support scaling tech companies. Dubbed RBCx, the national platform is meant to position RBC as a partner to startups at every stage of their journey.

Why it matters: The move is a reorientation of RBC services for the fast-growing tech sector and an acknowledgement that the bank had to evolve to succeed in a market where competition is fierce among our national financial institutions. (Indeed, in the past half-year, banks like CIBC, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Roynat by Scotiabank have all, in one major way or another, made key hires or professed their eagerness to fuel Canada’s tech giants of tomorrow.)

Canada’s tech sector is in a period of unprecedented growth and momentum. Nationally, Q1 of 2021 was the biggest quarter on record for venture capital investment with $2.7 billion invested over 175 deals in the first three months. In Vancouver, at least seven public and private companies passed the billion-dollar valuation mark in the past seven months, an unlikely run, but one with no signs of ending soon.

Details: An iteration of the RBCx group effectively launched last March when RBC hired former OMERS venture-capital investor Sid Paquette to lead a new group specializing in tech. At the time, Greg Grice, executive vice-president at RBC, said to a reporter, “We’re excited to leverage Sid’s deep industry experience and insights to help deliver unique financing solutions and advice that will help our clients scale and be globally successful.”

In a statement, the bank called RBCx “a holistic market-defining platform that will offer differentiated products and solutions for technology clients across their entire journey from inception to IPO and beyond.” What that will look like will differ depending on the company, of course, but Nicole Kelly, director of platform engagement for RBCx, emphasized the bank’s intent to harness expertise from different company units to uniquely serve clients.

“There are so many dots that we can connect to really make an impact for tech companies,” she told Vancouver Tech Journal a few weeks prior to today’s announcement.

Who’s involved: Paquette, who heads the new division, has put together a team that may be familiar to VC types. Eamonn Gamble, Western Canada director and RBCx team member called the hires “a serious injection of the VC community and VC operating model into RBC.” The group’s other key members include Tony Barkett (ex-Silicon Valley Bank), Tyler Kirk (ex-SVB and JP Morgan) and Anthony Mouchantaf (ex-OMERS).