Is Canada’s innovation ecosystem at an inflection point?
It is difficult to overstate the importance of innovation in today’s economy. Canada is no exception, with a growing consensus that their innovation ecosystem is facing an inflection point like never before as their technology sector hits new records in 2021.
Is Canada innovative?
The shift to a post-COVID digital economy has meant a surge of technological adoption, with 22 companies in Canada announcing financing of $100-million or more (over double the previous high back in 2019). IT-intensive and dynamic technology and service economies, with strong elements of entrepreneurship, in a matured ecosystem in Canada lays the foundation for a strong response to previously significant problems in the innovation hub.
A change in cabinet in Ottawa has led innovation experts in the country to sit up a little straighter as François-Philippe Champagne builds on the foundations of his predecessor. Mr Champagne, however uniquely prepared he is, faces a multitude of challenges facing Canada’s innovation ecosystem and previous history of just a decade ago, when Canadian tech companies struggled to hit the ground running.
Does Canada have a lot of talent for technology?
One major hurdle facing Canada is attracting talent from other countries. According to the Canadian government’s 2016 federal budget, immigration is key to building a skilled and diverse workforce capable of driving productivity, supporting strong economic growth, and crucially generating opportunities to create the tech leaders of tomorrow.
Attracting innovative tech talent to Canada, who may live and work in renowned areas such as Silicon Valley – the hub of scale for startups located within California’s borders – however, is no easy task. Toronto is already leading the way in their quest to create a Silicon Valley of the north, producing and attracting some of the brightest minds.
Our network at Touchpoint stretches a vast knowledge base in Canada, perfect for tech start-up and scale-ups to take advantage of at this critical juncture in Canada’s innovation ability. From data engineers and web developers to web analytics managers and CPOs, Touchpoint can help place talent where it is most needed.
Why is innovation important to Canada?
In order to maintain its innovative edge and nurture its growing technological capacity, Canada must do more than simply attract foreign talent — it must also retain the world-class innovators that it produces. The Canadian tech sector needs more global scale players like Shopify or Hootsuite who can grow big enough to attract international investment dollars while staying headquartered in Canada. If the Canadian digital economy is to succeed, this should be one of the top priorities for government and private industry alike.
To succeed at such a task, Canada needs to continue supporting its tech and innovation ecosystem by investing in research and development and highly desirable incentives for those in the industry for effective recruitment.
Current trends highlight the opportunities for growth within this sector – especially with increased investments in research & development. Canada’s venture investments appear to reflect trends seen elsewhere. But whilst this year is unprecedented for Canada’s financial investments, the country may still have a fair way to go, with even the most highly-valued Canadian unicorn not cracking even the top 100 of CB Insights’ list of 700-plus worldwide unicorns.
As we transition into a new era of digital innovation, the Canadian government seems to be embracing the new trajectory for innovation, taking steps to support the country’s innovation ecosystem, including recruiting and retaining top talent, investing in research and development as well as promoting Venture Capitalist investment.
Canada has reached a new inflection point for innovation, and the future depends on how entrepreneurs fill the waiting shoes.