Growing the next generation of anchor firms in southern Ontario
Recipients: Communitech, MaRS Discovery District, Invest Ottawa
Region: Southern Ontario
Stream: Regional Innovation Ecosystem
Total funding allocated: $52.4 million
It’s a proven formula. Provide a nucleus for entrepreneurs who need financial support, increased business and marketing skills and access to mentors, workshops and potential customers. Three of Ontario’s top innovation hubs have successfully implemented this very formula to nurture start-ups, and a FedDev Ontario investment has supported them in taking it to the next level with a new Scale-Up Platform. This innovative project has brought together three leading hubs—Communitech, MaRS and Invest Ottawa—to pool their resources and provide tailored services to help high-potential companies scale up.
The Scale-Up Platform will pave the way for strong job growth and economic benefits as a driving force for Canada’s technology sector, with the potential to help transform the current Waterloo-Toronto-Ottawa start-up tech corridor into a world-leading scale-up tech cluster. The three hubs are building a pipeline of scale-ready ventures with the goal of creating 30 $100-million anchor firms by 2024. And our Agency is excited to facilitate their efforts. “FedDev Ontario is playing a pivotal role by investing more than $52 million in the first scale-up platform of its kind in Canada,” says Michael Tremblay, President and CEO, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards. “Our organizations have identified more than 100 high-growth and scaling firms with the potential to achieve significant revenue. A sustained focus on this cohort will produce the next generation of anchor companies for our economy.”
Scaling companies are those growing in headcount or revenue by at least 20 percent per year over three years. They account for less than five percent of all Canadian firms, but create more than 50 percent of all new jobs. The process of getting 30 companies across the line as $100 million anchor firms will also support an additional 900 companies to reach early-, mid- and late-scale readiness. This investment will directly assist 12 key and emerging sectors in southern Ontario, strengthen partnerships with several post-secondary institutions, business accelerators and incubators and help innovative companies create up to 18,000 jobs.
According to MaRS CEO, Yung Wu, scaling companies are “crucial to fostering shared prosperity” here in Ontario and across Canada. “We need to help these scale-ups because they provide solutions that solve real problems for real people. They can cement Canada as an innovation leader, while also attracting investment and incredible talent from around the world.”
- New Growth and Innovation Network to Support Scale Ups in Ontario
- MaRS Discovery District
- Invest Ottawa
Over the next five years, Kitchener-Waterloo’s Communitech will receive $18 million, Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District will receive $17.5 million and Invest Ottawa will receive $16.9 million. The hubs will leverage FedDev Ontario’s investment and matching partner contributions to build on regional disruptive technology and talent strengths to support high-growth, globally oriented technology firms accelerate growth and commercial success.
“Our three hubs have a proven track record of success and work with companies that have the greatest potential to scale globally and, through their high-tech products, create a better world,” says Wu. “Coordinating our programs and services and jointly focusing on the highest potential companies is an evolution in how our ecosystem can support breakthrough companies with important solutions.”
As part of this platform, Communitech and Invest Ottawa are collaborating with regional partners to help cultivate a strong supply of scale-ready companies. Additionally, the platform will help enable and catalyze the growth and success of more women-owned firms and Indigenous entrepreneurs, and ensure that innovation centres in smaller communities have access to scale-up programming, advisory services and support for their client companies.
“FedDev Ontario's partnership in the Scale-up Platform is critical to our ability to support the growing number of rapidly scaling firms in southern Ontario,” says Iain Klugman, CEO, Communitech. “The investment FedDev Ontario is making will allow us to continue to support a healthy pipeline of start-up companies and to build specialized support for those high-growth companies that are on the path to $100 million in annual revenue. We know that $100 million firms are significant job creators. They are also the firms that are most likely to grow into $1B businesses and contribute to the health of the overall Canadian economy.”
The rise of innovation hubs as important resources for assisting entrepreneurs and accelerating business growth is a testament to the benefits of collaboration and the value of gaining access to the right expertise, networks and ecosystems at the right time. This new Scale-Up Platform—with its novel collaborative approach—will provide an even more powerful launch pad with game-changing supports that will increase our potential to generate made-in-Canada anchor firms that will drive innovation, business expansion and job creation.
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