"IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO BUILD GREAT COMPANIES, ESPECIALLY IN HARD TECH. VANCOUVER IS THE VILLAGE WITH A WORLD-CLASS PARTNER ECOSYSTEM THAT ARE HUNGRY TO SEE FOUNDERS AND STARTUP COMPANIES SUCCEED".- KOOKAI CHAIMAHAWONG, ASSOCIATE
I moved to Vancouver in 2017 to pursue my Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of British Columbia. Little did I know then that I would be calling Vancouver my second home and that I’d be devoting my career to support the technology ecosystem here.
Right after my graduation, I was given the opportunity to join Pangaea ventures, the world leader in advanced materials venture capital. Pangaea Ventures is one of the few VC funds in the world dedicated to funding materials for our future. We invest in hard tech companies leveraging materials science, chemistry, biology, and physics to develop breakthrough solutions. Pangaea was founded in Vancouver in 2000 and has since been funding companies with solutions to solve the world’s fundamental
problems in climate change, food & water security, and health outcomes.
Vancouver might be best known for the great outdoors, the natural beauty, cultural diversity, or the rain. But the thriving technology scene is also adding to Vancouver’s reputation as a growing innovation hub.
To me, Vancouver is like a big city with a ‘small town’ feel. It often calls itself the ‘Silicon Valley of the North’ and has been consistently ranked as the ‘best city for start-ups and technology’. But once you’re a part of the community, you could quickly recognize familiar faces and can eventually find your tribe (hence the ‘small town’ feel). At the same time, every person you meet is working on their big ideas that could change the world. Take our portfolio company, Aspect Biosystems, as an example. They are
pioneering the microfluidic 3D bioprinting of living human tissues. Their vision is a future in which drugs are developed without the use of animals, doctors know how a patient will react to a drug before prescribing it, and lifesaving transplant organs are created, not harvested.
It takes a village to build great companies, especially in hard tech. Great innovation often comes out from an ecosystem that shares knowledge, network, and resources. Vancouver is the village with a partner ecosystem that are hungry to see founders and startup companies succeed. From local angel groups that are helping startups take the first steps (shoutout to Valhalla Angels, VANTEC Angel Network and E-Fund), to top-tier accelerators & incubators that will get your ideas off the ground
(shoutout to Creative Destruction Lab, Spring Activator, Foresight CAC, Founder Institute, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship at UBC, and SFU VentureLabs), to an early-stage VC like Pangaea that will support companies through commercialization and growth. There are a growing number of organizations here that will help turn your ideas into reality.
While we may not be Silicon Valley, we are a strong community that’s poised for growth. I believe that your impact is only as big as your networks of relationships and only as innovative as the diversity of the people in your networks. Which is why Vancouver, a city that values diversity and growth as a community is the place to be. I’m excited to be a part of the equation to fund the next innovations that will change the world.