Sun and clouds
A blustery global economy continues to buffet Canadian tech companies, but there were plenty of sunny breaks amid the clouds all through July.
One of the brightest spots was the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, which sparkled in two prestigious ecosystem reports.
Both Toronto and Waterloo fared well in the CBRE Scoring Tech Talent report. The annual ranking lists the top 50 tech centres in the U.S. and Canada, based on their competitive advantage and appeal to employers and talent. Waterloo Region was once again the top small market (under 50,000 tech workers), while ranking No. 24 on the overall list of 50 tech-rich communities. Toronto was ranked No. 3 overall, behind only the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.
Meanwhile, another ranking – Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report – recently listed the Toronto-Waterloo corridor as No. 17 in the world. The corridor is also the third-fastest growing startup ecosystem, behind only Silicon Valley and New York City. As well, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor has the highest concentration of AI startups on the planet. And, as the Waterloo Region Record pointed out in a story about the Startup Genome report, the ethnic diversity of the Toronto-Waterloo corridor plays a huge role in attracting global tech talent to the area.
Deals and dollars
A report from briefed.in said that tech companies in Waterloo Region raised a combined $559.1 million in the second quarter of 2022, up 256 per cent over the same quarter last year. Deal volume was down, however, with 96 per cent of the total money raised coming from a single transaction: Faire’s Series G extension of $537.7 million in May.
The situation is similar across the country. Canadian tech companies raised a collective $1.9 billion over 107 deals in Q2, compared to $4.7 billion over 184 deals in the same quarter last year, according to briefed.In.
The good news is that VCs continue to invest in Canadian tech. So far in Q3, $169.3 million has been invested in Canadian companies across 20 deals, according to briefed.in. In one recent deal, Waterloo-based chatbot developer Proto announced a $5.6-million Series A raise. In another, home-blood-test company Verv Technologies landed $3.8 million in seed financing from Randox Laboratories UK.
Meanwhile, health-tech company PointClickCare – a member of Communitech’s Team True North – saw its valuation increase to more than US$5 billion when JMI Equity and Hellman & Friedman LLC both increased their existing stakes by purchasing shares from early investors and employees.
In addition to home-grown success stories, the Waterloo Economic Development Corporation drew attention to internationally-headquartered companies that have chosen Waterloo Region to grow their businesses – tech powerhouses such as Google, McAfee, Oracle Netsuite and others.
Adjusting the sails
Many companies are adjusting workforce numbers, office needs and expense lines to navigate the current economic headwinds. E-commerce leader Shopify, along with fintechs Wealthsimple and Clearco (also on Team True North), are among a number of Canadian tech companies to make headlines recently for layoffs and other streamlining decisions.
It’s important to note, as Communitech CEO Chris Albinson has said, that economic cycles are an inevitable part of any industry.
“Canadian tech has made huge strides in recent years,” he says. “Now we’re steering through a particularly tough stretch. Fortunately, Canada has lots of tech veterans who’ve successfully navigated the ups and downs before. Communitech is tapping into their experience and sharing it with members. That’s why we’re here – to help Canadian tech companies succeed, especially when things get challenging.”
As with any cloud, there’s a silver lining to be found in the current economic climate. A story by the Canadian Press noted that there’s still a healthy demand for talented tech workers, especially in tech-reliant sectors such as banking and insurance but also by tech-focused companies that have the resources to continue their growth plans. Just last week, automation software maker PEER Group announced a virtual hiring event to staff up at the company’s Kitchener and Toronto locations.
For tech talent looking for work, and employers looking to hire, check out Communitech’s national Work in Tech job board. You can also visit The Help List, where tech employees can showcase their skills and employers can find great tech talent.
Speaking of challenges, the nationwide outage of Rogers’ wireless and internet services on July 8 showed just how important – and potentially fragile – the country’s digital infrastructure is. The Rogers disruption prompted parliamentary hearings and led numerous experts to comment on how best to avoid similar digital disruptions in future.
Among those quoted in the media was Bogdan Frusina, founder and Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Waterloo-based Dejero. The company’s technology connects a variety of digital channels – landlines, satellite links and cell-tower connections – so that if one goes down, the others kick in to maintain service.
As Frusina told the Waterloo Region Record, Dejero products are already used by a number of defence, law enforcement and 911 emergency services in the U.S. and Canada. Following the Rogers’ outage, Dejero received a bump in the number of inquiries from hospitals and other organizations about the company’s technology.
About Town columnist Alex Kinsella brings us the story of Profound Impact, a female-founded startup that helps educational, research and community organizations use data to measure the impact of their programs. The company was started by Sherry Shannon-Vanstone, who sold her previous company – TrustPoint Innovation Technologies – to ETAS Embedded Systems Canada in 2017.
Speaking of impact, Communitech’s M-Theory columnist Melanie Baker riffs on the importance of empowering frontline staff with the knowledge, messaging and freedom to deliver a positive customer experience.
Several Communitechers traveled to Pittsburgh for the summer conference of TECNA, the Technology Councils of North America. Communitech CEO Chris Albinson was invited to host a fireside chat with David L. Cohen, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, about the role of tech in the economies of Canada and the U.S. At the same event, Communitech’s VP of Founder Services, Lisa Cashmore, was elected to the TECNA board of directors. As well, Communitech’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy, Prat Sureka, who serves as Chair of TECNA’s Canadian Public Policy committee, led a session on public policy.
In other news
This edition of the Tech Roundup was compiled by Kevin Crowley. Sign up to receive the Roundup each month by visiting communitech.ca/technews and scrolling to the bottom of the page.