Victor Chu said similar funds have helped European companies reach Asian markets.

Victor Chu said similar funds have helped European companies to reach Asian markets. (Courtesy globaloceancommission.org)

A Chinese businessman has created a $50-million private venture capital fund in Nova Scotia.

Victor Chu is the chairman of First Eastern Investment Group, a leading Hong Kong-based direct-investment firm. He met Premier Stephen McNeil when the premier visited China in September.

They started discussing the fund then, and firmed up plans on Sunday.  

"This will provide one more source of capital for Nova Scotia business people to develop their products and grow our economy," McNeil said Tuesday in a statement.

"It is also another path for Nova Scotia companies into China. As Nova Scotia reaches to double its exports, and expand tourism, China is a critical current and future market."

Chu said the fund will help small- and medium-sized enterprises expand into the "vast Asian markets."

"We have a wonderful track record in helping European SMEs to grow into Asia, and I am sure we will achieve similar 'win-win' successes with companies from Nova Scotia," he said.

Chu also holds the position of commissioner at the Global Ocean Commission.

Interested in emerging technologies

John Risley, the Halifax businessman behind Clearwater Seafoods, acted as Chu's unofficial tour guide during his visit to Nova Scotia last year. 

"His interest in Nova Scotia and in indeed Atlantic Canada is around those companies who are not now doing business in Asia, but who he thinks have an opportunity to do business in Asia," Risley said. 

John Risley on venture capital fund3:17

Risley took Chu to Dalhousie University and on visits to LED Roadway Lighting, aerospace's IMP and seniors home provider Shannex.

Chu is also said to be interested in emerging technologies.    

Risley said beyond the $50 million, Nova Scotia businesses can take advantage of the connections to Asia. 

"You should always look for an investor who can bring value to the table beyond just the financial component of it, and he qualifies in a way that no other investor that we've got in Atlantic Canada can qualify in that respect," Risley said. 

McNeil said Chu and his team will be in the province this spring for more meetings.