The word “alacrity” means brisk and cheerful readiness. This definition, the unique combination of resources behind it, and a shared vision to create significant local and global economic and social impact, propel the Alacrity ecosystem forward. Numerous companies have already graduated successfully from the unique technology start-up and VC funding model, and others are constantly being identified and brought on line.
An initiative of technology investment management and holding firm Wesley Clover International (wesleyclover.com), the first Alacrity incubator/accelerator was formed in Western Canada in 2009. It combined the significant expertise and resources of Wesley Clover in a non-profit partnership with the University of British Columbia that leveraged innovation programs from both the Federal and the BC Provincial governments to select, fund and grow entrepreneurial technology companies.
The university created a Masters academic program around the initiative, and Wesley Clover provided investment funds, an operational model and access to skilled mentors. Equity in the companies that graduated successfully from the program was split between the entrepreneurs/employees, the fund, the University and Wesley Clover, providing the opportunity for follow-on returns that would make the fund self-sustaining.
Six of the start-up firms from that original fund continue to operate and grow today, and an Investor Readiness program introduced later helps a broad range of established tech companies that are ready for further investment get connected with an extensive network of domestic and foreign venture capital investors.
The Alacrity model was then replicated in South Wales, but with a slightly different business model – that of a ‘charitable’ incubator using corporate partner and government contributions to provide seed funding and create technology entrepreneurship opportunities for local engineering and business school graduates. This Alacrity operation is the only such charitable technology incubator in Europe.
A pure for-profit model – providing seed funding and growing firms with a definite eye on commercialization and meaningful exits – was then deployed in Istanbul, Turkey, with partners, government programs, mentors/advisors and post-secondary graduates there. In this case, the fund was named the Netas-Wesley Clover Technology Fund, but the Alacrity model and supporting resources were consistent, and at least four of the start-up companies are now busy expanding globally.
Since then, the flexible Alacrity model has been introduced to Lille France, Shanghai China, Pune India, Mexico City Mexico, Singapore and Jakarta Indonesia. These funds are at various stages of deployment, and further additions to the ecosystem are regularly being considered or planned.
Each regional fund is or will be operating with the requisite degree of local autonomy and flexibility, as determined by the local partners and Board of Directors that is set up to manage each operation. While there is no legal connection between each of the funds, and they may deploy similar or different programs, they are all key constituents of the global Alacrity ecosystem. Consistent in this is the ongoing support provided by Wesley Clover, going beyond lead investment to include access to experienced resources, extended portfolio products and intellectual property, lead customer opportunities, and global channel and partner introductions.