Canada

Toronto-Waterloo #17

MEMBERS:
MaRS Discovery District Communitech Corporation

"As new Canadians, we built ApplyBoard to democratize access to education for students worldwide. We chose the Toronto-Waterloo corridor because we could easily access a diverse and global community of talented people."

Martin Basiri
CEO and cofounder, ApplyBoard
Top 10 Global Ecosystem in Funding
Top 20 Global Ecosystem in Talent & Experience
Top 15 North American Ecosystem in Affordable Talent

Highlights

With more than 300,000 tech workers, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor is home to North America’s third-largest and fastest-growing innovation ecosystem. Anchored by the cities of Toronto (recognized as one of the most multicultural on the planet) and Waterloo (home to the well-regarded University of Waterloo), the corridor boasts excellent transit connectivity and leading innovation hubs including MaRS and Communitech, as well as deep reservoirs of wealth. Nearly half of the venture capital deployed in Canada in 2021, a record CAD$7.7 billion, went to companies based in Toronto and Waterloo.  

 

The corridor’s millennial population is growing at lightning speed — more than 21% per year — and the quality of talent based here ranks alongside the globe’s elite tech regions. More broadly, Canada’s favorable immigration policies, public institutions, and social-democratic values have attracted a steady influx of highly-skilled newcomers to the area. In 2021, the Toronto region ranked as the best city in the world for working women, second in the world for safety, and sixth in the world for remote workers.


ApplyBoard, an Edtech company that helps place international students, closed a $375 million Series D round in June 2021. Deep Genomics, which creates genetic therapies using AI, raised $180 million in Series C funding a month later, and Cleantech startup GaN Systems raised $150 million in November. Password manager 1Password has raised $920 million over three rounds, with its most recent a $620 million Series C in January 2022.

Ecosystem by the Numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
(2019H2-2021)
$2.7 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$687 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(2019H2-2021)
$46 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$28.6 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$700 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$671 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$6.5 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2021)
$70 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$46 k
13 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
11.3 bn
563
GLOBAL AVG.
101
Amount ($)
Count (#)

Exits

(2017-2021)
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH TIER (2018/19 VS. 2020/21)
6
Calculated on a scale of
1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2017-2021)
$12 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.5 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2017-2021)
9.1 years
GLOBAL AVG.
9.4 years

Sub-Sector Strengths

AI, Big Data & Analytics

Few countries command as much trust as Canada, and global debates about the creation and use of new technology have created opportunities for Toronto-Waterloo tech companies to lead in sectors where trust is critical. Applied AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech, Healthtech, sustainability and Smart Cities are just some examples. The Toronto region’s public and private institutions — governed by robust laws — remain role models in the Tech for Good movement.

Life Sciences

The Toronto-Waterloo corridor is a global life-sciences powerhouse, boasting some of the world’s best hospitals, and more than 8,000 related companies. The foundation of this success comes from the University of Toronto (famous for the discovery of insulin and stem cells) and the University of Waterloo, which has the largest post-secondary co-op program in the world, with nearly 20,000 co-op students enrolled over three semesters in more than 120 programs.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to Toronto-Waterloo

Building for Humanity

Canada’s reputation as a progressive nation provides a rock-solid foundation for founders to build trust into their technologies and tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. CEOs Tobi Lütke (Shopify), Michele Romanow (Clearco), and Joshua Liu (SeamlessMD) are some vocal local champions of this ethos.

Global Community

Toronto-Waterloo represents 230 nationalities and 180 languages spoken. By 2025, Canada will welcome more than 1.3 million new Canadians. The region is an open destination, where newcomers can find people from their native community and also join dozens more. Local universities attract tens of thousands of international students every year, and consistently produce world-class graduates for high-growth companies.

From Lab to Market

Toronto-Waterloo is enviably equipped to turn student talent into professionals, and to turn ideas into prosperous companies. In 2020, MaRS-supported ventures raised $2.4 billion while generating $1.5 billion in revenue and almost 23,000 jobs. The University of Waterloo’s Innovation Area, a $35-million space offering wet and biosafety labs for 75 ventures, is set to open in 2023.

Selected Startup Organizations

Startup Genome Members

Key Ecosystem Players

Startup Genome
Partners

Brookfield Institute
Centre for Social Innovation
City of Toronto
Creative Destruction Lab
DMZ
Haltech
Innovation Factory
Invest Toronto
Next 36
OneEleven
RIC Centre
The Founder City Project
Venture Lab
World Canada

Get connected

Are you interested in diving deeper into this ecosystem? Drop us a message. Our Ambassadors and Partners can plug you in.