Canadian tech companies are growing, but not as fast as firms in the U.S., says report

Not only are more Canadian companies becoming successful on the world stage, but they’re not being lost to foreign buyers, according to the University of Toronto’s Impact Centre.

Compared to 2016, the centre’s Narwhal List – Canada’s 50 most financially attractive private tech companies – says Canada has almost doubled the number of firms that are on track to become unicorns (startups valued at $1 billion or more). Twenty-nine of the list’s 50 firms raised a total of $1.2 billion for an average round of $41 million per company. But Canada has a lot of work ahead of itself, the report suggests.

While 18 Canadian companies enjoyed a financial velocity – a metric determined by the amount of funding a company has raised divided by the number of years it has been in existence – of between $10 and 25 million per year raised, which amounts to approximately $105 million per company, American unicorns have reached nearly double that amount in the same time span.

“The sheer difference in scale between investments available to technology firms here and the US is a stark reminder that we have to be significantly smarter about how we nurture and invest in Canadian technology companies,” the report says.

Source: Impact Centre’s Narwhal List 2018

Hootsuite topped the list of tech narwhals, while Toronto’s BlueRock Therapeutics ranked first among healthcare narwhals. Healthcare companies are separated from other tech firms in this year’s rankings. How quickly companies hire employees was another metric observed in the report, and Hootsuite topped the list there as well, with 122 employees per year.

Four companies left the Narwhal list of private companies as a result of their sale: Real Matters, VarageSale, Zymeworks and Clementia Pharmaceuticals.

While the Narwhal report did not get specific revenue numbers for the private Canadian companies it wanted to study for long-term growth, data from 237 U.S. software companies with revenues above $100 million showed a long-term connection between growth in revenue, growth in capital and growth in personnel.

Data for the Impact Centre’s Narwhal List is collected from public sources.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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