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Canadian Start-up

The Startup Scene in Canada Is Strong and Growing

Over the past decades, Canada has cultivated its start-up culture and the environment by using different support measures, such as government funding, networks of start-up incubators, tax incentives, and even a dedicated immigration program.

Canada is one of the most effective countries in the world in attracting start-ups, and the province of Ontario has been the leader among other Canadian provinces. Consequently, Ontario’s start-up ecosystem is one of the best in the world.

Three Canadian cities — Toronto (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec), and Vancouver (British Columbia) — are regularly ranked among the best according to the RepTrack Rankings.



Canada is committed to attracting talent from abroad and retaining such talent. For example, relaxed immigration policies and the new startup visa launched in 2018, after a pilot program in 2013, are key indications of this commitment. The Global Talent Stream program, launched in 2017 by the federal government to make it easier for businesses to hire highly skilled global workers, has also brought more than 40,000 people to Canada, including 24,000 in the areas of computer programming and software engineering.


Canada is home to more than 60 university-led incubator and accelerator programs, which are pushing innovation forward and creating a new generation of entrepreneurs. The contentious open IP university system has allowed more companies and student entrepreneurs to develop companies and be able to take their IP with them wherever they go. This system is in addition to government services that provide access to education, IP legislation, and strategic growth, for companies to be developed and commercialized successfully. 


Canada has long been considered a more conservative and risk-averse culture than the USA.  However, the Canadian startup ecosystem has managed to develop its own culture-appropriate strategies to balance the risk-averse nature of its entrepreneurial culture with economic and business fundamentals. Most notably, Canada is successful in managing its healthy influx of immigrants, a success that contributes to local economies and the start-up landscape.


The Periodic Table of Tech In Canada

The startups selected for inclusion in the table below are all VC-backed technology companies with at least $1M in equity funding and have obtained equity funding since 2015. The companies were highlighted for analysis using CB Insights data on funding and company health, including momentum, as captured by our
proprietary Mosaic algorithm.

Startups headquartered in the Toronto metro area dominate the table, with over 50 tech companies based in the area featured. Vancouver and Montreal came in second and third, respectively, with over 10 featured startups headquartered in each of the two cities.

We expect that this cohort will change over time as new entrants emerge and gain prominence and others falter or exit.



The top 7 rows of the table lists private, investor-backed companies in select industries, as well as notable VC and corporate investors in Canada. The bottom two rows outline notable exits of Canada-based companies. We broke Canadian tech down into the following categories:

Companies: This category includes 108 privately-owned technology startups
headquartered in Canada across 23 sub-categories. These startups have raised equity
funding and show significant momentum within their respective category.

Venture Capital: This category encompasses the most active Canadian venture capital
firms by number of deals to tech companies globally since the start of 2017.


Corporation/CVC: These are the most active Canada-based corporations, and their
corporate venture capital (CVC) arms, making investments in private tech companies
around the world since the beginning of 2017.


Notable Exits: This includes Canada-based tech companies that have exited in the form
of an M&A transaction or an IPO since 2014, including the USD $1B+ exits of Lightspeed
POS and Shopify, among others.




Ag Tech: Agriculture tech companies, such as Farmers Edge, provide agribusinesses
with tools and services to help identify, map, and manage farms.


Artificial Intelligence (AI): Companies in this category are applying artificial intelligence
across various sectors. Kira, for example, is an AI platform that identifies and extracts
information from contracts. Also included is Element AI, a company that helps
organizations embrace AI, which raised $102M in a Series A round in 2017.


Auto Tech: Startups include  Mojio, which provides an open platform for connected cars,
as well as  LeddarTech, which is developing LiDAR sensing technology.


Blockchain: Blockchain companies featured in the table include startups
like  Coinsquare, which operates a platform to buy, sell, and trade commodities like
bitcoin, ethereum, and gold.


Clean Tech: Clean tech companies are companies aimed towards using technology to
further sustainability efforts across industries. The only company featured in our table
is  MineSense Technologies, which provides a platform for analyzing low-grade ore with
the aim of helping to improve sustainability in mining.


Cloud Computing: Companies in this category include Auvik Networks, which looks to
help service providers improve the efficiency of their managed cloud services.
CPG & Retail Innovation: These companies are applying technology to retail and e-
commerce. Tulip Retail, for example, provides a mobile platform for retail store workers
which helps them to view customer preferences, complete sales, and communicate
with clients. Tulip has raised over $42M in funding.


Cybersecurity: Startups in this category include  SecureKey Technologies, which
develops products for authenticating online transactions. Others include eSentire , which
offers threat management services for the hedge fund industry.


Data Management: Warehousing: Companies in this category include PHEMI, a big
data warehouse company that aims to let organizations access and mine a variety of
data to help provide insights.


Digital Health: These startups include Figure 1, a mobile-first network of healthcare
professionals. Others include Deep Genomics, which uses deep learning technology to
sift through genetic mutations with the goal of identifying potential causes of disease.

E-Commerce: This category includes Elastic Path, which builds e-commerce software
to help businesses sell products online. Others include  Flipp , which offers a digital
platform used by retailers.


Ed Tech: Startups in this category include learning management system Absorb
Software and mobile-based classroom response company Top Hat.


Fintech: The financial technology category has the greatest number of startups in our
table. Among these is  Clearbanc , which provides growth capital for companies using
business data instead of a traditional credit score. It has raised $120M in disclosed
funding. Also in this category is Vena Solutions, which offers a platform that aims to
automate financial and other spreadsheet-driven processes.


HR Tech: Human Resources technology companies include Benevity, a social enterprise
that offers a platform to help companies improve the social impact of their programs.


IoT: These are companies developing products or solutions in the internet of things
(IoT) space. Companies include ecobee, which builds home automation products and
has raised $192M in disclosed equity funding.


On-demand: This category includes companies which offer on-demand services for
customers, often connecting businesses with end users. Breather, for instance, offers
its members an on-demand network of private rooms which can be accessed via its


Quantum Computing: The startups in this category are working on quantum computing
applications across a number of industries. D-Wave Systems develops quantum
computing systems for commercial use in sectors such as logistics, quantitative
finance, and electronic design.


Reg Tech: Regulation technology companies in this year’s table include Assent
Compliance, a SaaS platform that helps companies to manage supply chains and
product compliance. Another company in the space is Galvanize, a cloud platform
that offers services for functions such as security, risk management, and audits.


Restaurant Tech: This category includes companies that provide technology-driven
products for services such as restaurant management, bookings, staffing, and inventory

management. For example, Toronto-based  TouchBistro offers a tablet-based point-of-
sale system. It has raised $90M in disclosed equity funding.


Robotics:  Clearpath Robotics , a company developing automated robots for a range of
industries, falls into this category. Another example is Ontario-based  Avidbots , which
makes floor cleaning robots for commercial buildings.


Social: This category includes messaging service Kik Interactive, which has a unicorn
valuation, and story-sharing platform Wattpad. 


Travel Tech: These are tech-enabled companies offering services and products focused
on tourism. Hopper, for example, is a mobile application that uses big data to predict
airfares. Another startup in the space is  CrowdRiff, an AI-powered content marketing
platform targeted towards the travel and tourism industry.


Wearables: These companies develop hardware or software for wearable consumer
electronics. One startup in the space is InteraXon, the creator of Muse, which offers
brainwave-measuring headsets with the aim of helping to guide meditation.



Canada has developed numerous programs to encourage, support, and accelerate startup development.

Digital Media Zone

The DMZ, developed by Ryerson University, acts as both an incubator and accelerator for entrepreneurs.


MaRS Discovery District

This incubator, based in Toronto, offers entrepreneurs training, mentorship, and space to start their company.


Industrial Research Assistance Program

This government-backed program offers would-be entrepreneurs the mentorship and funding they need to launch their start-up.


Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program uses tax incentives to encourage Canadian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada.


This program focuses on building Canada’s artificial intelligence (AI) industry using mentorship, seed capital, and special AI-related tools.


Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP)

This government program encourages more private investors and funds $1 for every $2 of investment a participating start-up earns in early-round funding.



Founded in 1997, Communitech is an innovation center that works with tech startups to encourage their growth and success.


Startup Canada

A grassroots network of entrepreneurs, Startup Canada brings entrepreneurs together to promote the culture of entrepreneurship in Canada.

The Canadian government helps start-ups through a variety of programs on both the federal and local levels. Over the past decade, Canada has introduced tax incentives, loans, grants, wage subsidies, and even a dedicated immigration program.

CTI Global Consulting about Canada start-up Workspace
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