The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is launching a venture incubator called Koru, which aims to create, test and build scalable new digital businesses.
“Koru is a clear demonstration of Ontario Teachers’ partnership model of investing,” said Ziad Hindo, chief investment officer at the Ontario Teachers’, in a press release. “It provides us with an entirely new way to work alongside our portfolio companies and help protect them against disruption by finding opportunities to add significant mutual value along the way.”
The Toronto-based company is at work formulating ideas in sectors such as health care, utilities and transportation, noted the release. Its first project, Elovee, is a technology that digitizes the voice and likeness of family members to bring comfort to those suffering from dementia when family members can’t be present.
The software, which was designed with the Ontario Teachers’ portfolio company Amica Senior Lifestyles, is currently being piloted in two of its Canadian locations. “Amica is proud to be working with Koru on Elovee,” said Douglas MacLatchy, chief executive officer of Amica Senior Lifestyles. “Drawing on innovative technologies and Amica’s in-house expertise in cognitive well-being, this venture is well-positioned to enrich the lives of people with dementia and their loved ones.”
Koru is wholly owned by the Ontario Teachers’ and is a partnership with BCG Digital Ventures, itself the incubation arm of Boston Consulting Group.
“Our collaboration with Ontario Teachers’ is inspiring because we are able to draw upon our unique methodology for corporate innovation and experience in launching more than 90 ventures to help them create this new capability for venture building,” said Anthony Koithra, managing director and partner at BCG Digital Ventures. “The potential it has for igniting innovation in — and accelerating the growth of — its portfolio companies is very exciting.”
In other investment news, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has formed a joint venture with Boston Properties Inc. to develop Platform 16, a 1.1-million-square-foot Class A urban office campus in downtown San Jose, California.
In November 2018, Boston Properties entered a 65-year ground lease for Platform 16. As part of the lease, it secured the right to purchase all underlying land during a 12-month period starting Feb. 1, 2020 for about U.S.$134.8 million.
The CPPIB will have a 45 per cent ownership interest in the venture. Boston Properties will retain the remaining 55 per cent stake and provide customary development, property management and leasing services. The agreement is the second joint venture between the CPPIB and Boston Properties following the Santa Monica Business Park campus in 2018. The partnership will support the development of a planned three-building campus.
“Partnering with Boston Properties on the Platform 16 development is a great example of our real estate strategy in the United States,” said Hilary Spann, managing director and head of real estate investments, Americas at the CPPIB, in a press release. “We are very pleased to further our relationship with a best-in-class owner and operator and we look forward to expanding our office portfolio in the dynamic Bay Are.”