Big things are happening in the Canadian technology scene and the country is garnering attention at an increasing rate. More and more, we are hearing Canada being referred to as “Silicon Valley North” and being featured as a hotbed of tech startup activity. Based in Toronto, Blackspark is a Canadian tech company with a ring-side seat to observe the action. Here’s what we see:
- Venture Capital funding on the rise. More than $2 Billion dollars in VC funding was raised by Canadian startups last year, up 15% year over year, according to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. Big VC players participating include Fidelity Investments Canada, The Amazon Alexa Fund and Intel Capital.
- Google and Facebook have offices in Toronto. These U.S. tech giants act as anchor tenants for the Canadian tech industry, which attract top talent and ultimately result in spin-off startups when employees move on to start new ventures.
- Success breeds success. Many Canadian tech startups have already emerged on the world stage, including Shopify, Hootsuite and Kik. As these successful companies continue to grow, they will also establish themselves as anchor tenants and catalysts for increased startup activity.
- Canada-based engineers are relatively cheap. The cost of living in Canada is generally much less than San Francisco and other large U.S. tech-centric cities. As a result, Canadian startups can hire top talent cost effectively, meaning more growth per dollar invested (or re-invested).
- The power of diversity. Canada is a culture and economy that thrives on immigration. In fact, Toronto, with more than half of its residents born outside of Canada, is frequently heralded as one of the most diverse cities in the entire world. Many people come to Canada to work in tech, an industry in which some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies, like Google, Tesla and Ebay, were founded by immigrants.
- Early stage help is available. Canada has an active and growing number of startup incubators and accelerators. These companies play a role in startup creation and growth by trading services like funding, mentorship and office space in exchange for equity.
- Government is innovation-friendly. Canada is an attractive place to build a tech company because of the government assistance available. Programs like SR&ED and IRAP provide mechanisms to subsidize technology investment and accelerate growth.
There you have it. So remember the next time somebody mentions Silicon Valley, they might be referring to that country North of the border!