Across America, cities from coast to coast are clamouring to be the next best startup hub. But over in Canada—the original home of the Blackberry mobile device—the country has slowly began cultivating a startup culture of its own. And there are plenty of reasons why this Northern country is an ideal ecosystem for building new businesses.
For starters, Canada has a long history for being open-minded and innovative. Their progressive attitude towards smart cities, clean energy, and artificial intelligence help set the foundation for emerging companies prepared to build the technology of tomorrow. The Waterloo area of Toronto has already been hailed as the Silicon Valley of the North. Over in Vancouver, a tech boom is alive and thriving. Here’s why Canada is called North America’s up-and-coming startup center:
The Cleantech Industry
Canada has a fast-growing cleantech industry that was once referred to as the country’s “best kept secret.” But what is cleantech, exactly? Clean technology is a type of product, process, or service designed to reduce negative environmental impacts through sustainable resources and protection activities. Currently, Canada has nearly 700 cleantech companies that generate $11.3 billion cumulatively on an annual basis.
These startups have helped transform the oil and gas industries and paved the way for socially responsible practices. Furthermore, they help to create jobs that help propel the Canadian economy; roughly 41,000 citizens are employed by these innovative cleantech companies.
Startup incubators and accelerators are designed to fasttrack business growth. Typically, these programs last anywhere between three to six months, and consists of mentorship programs, networking events, and more. By housing a class of startups in a setting where they can focus solely on their projects and have regular update meetings with the staff, it allows them to assume accountability and be motivated to keep going. No matter what challenging barricades a startup faces, they can address it here: from transferring a domain to a recommended host to creating a crowdfunding campaign to build a pitch deck for investors.
“Early-stage founders are often in a hurry to launch and they ignore the basics of what problem they’re solving, the value proposition, market size and revenue streams,” said Kari Gordon, the executive director of Startup Calgary. “The services offered through Startup Calgary help guide them to answer those questions and encourage continuous iteration.”
According to a report published by Salesfare, of the 40 incubators in North America, seven of them were in Canada. Among them were Le Camp in Quebec City, a hybrid incubator-accelerator that offers a diverse set of services for companies in different development stages, and Toronto’s Creative Construction Lab, which helps seed-stage companies prepare for funding.
Moreover, Canada is renowned for its supportive university system. Digital Media Zone (DMZ) is currently the #1 university-based incubator program in the world, having helped nearly 400 startups within the last decade.
The Canadian government’s support for startups helps the entrepreneurial community continue to thrive. Many incubators are funded by government grants. Refunds, tax breaks, and credits help fuel startup growth. For example, the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit refunds up to 65% of R&D costs, and is available to any new company working on innovative products. The Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit a 35–40% refundable tax credit for companies who create digital media and informational products. And the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) offers small and large grants for tech-driven products, services, and processes in the country.
Canada is a global leader in renewable energy. Renewable energy is the process of collecting energy from renewable resources, such as sunlight, rain, and geothermal heat. By helping to conserve our natural resources, we can reduce fuel spills, enhance energy security, and cut back on imported fuels. Ultimately, it helps provide clean energy for our daily lives.
The top fifteen renewable energy companies in the country have yielded nearly $750 million in funding. These top 15 companies focus on everything from waste transformation to waste development to energy storage technology.
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