Story by Veronica Sheppard, MaRS
Canada has a different way of doing business, and it’s paying off.
Local and international investors, including some NBA stars, are setting their sights on increasingly popular tech hot spots across the country, cities that are producing more “narwhals” — the Canadian counterpart to unicorns, which are companies valued over $1 billion — than ever before. In the first half of 2019 alone, investments in Canadian startups reached nearly $3.3 billion, with data from PitchBook showing the lion’s share of the investment going toward trending areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobile fintech, digital health, industrials and cryptocurrency.
Here are some of the more notable funding rounds, raises and exits for Canadian companies so far this year – all numbers are in CAD:
- In a massive exit for a Canadian company, Wave was acquired by H&R Block for $537 million;
- Wealthsimple, a robo-advisor focused on millennials, secured $100 million;
- KOHO recently announced a $42-million Series B raise;
- Maintenance and asset management software provider Fiix announced a $53-million Series C in January;
- Toronto-based Flybits raised $46 million to continue its development of personalized banking offerings;
- Vention, a Montreal-based digital machine manufacturing platform, secured $17 million;
- Lendified, a lending platform for small businesses, raised $15 million;
- Calgary-based ZayZoon, which provides an employee financial payroll system, raised $15 million; and
- Influitive, a Toronto-based customer advocacy platform provider, announced a $10 million raise in February.
While international funds are flowing toward Canada, homegrown venture capital firms are also on the rise. Take two notable women-led, Toronto-based funds as an example: StandUp Ventures and Two Small Fish Ventures. Both secured significant raises surpassing $27 million this past May. The funds are looking to expand their support of early-stage companies, and in StandUp’s case women-led companies, working to balance the gender disparity in tech and invest in Canadian-started ventures, keeping talent and capital within the country’s tech ecosystem.
The hype isn’t expected to die down any time soon. Google recently announced they plan to double the size of their Kitchener-Waterloo engineering office, with potential for expansion into Toronto, showing continued momentum in the Canadian tech landscape and the growing need for talent in the field.
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