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Everything you need to know about the Toronto startup scene

Everything you need to know about the Toronto startup scene

Friday June 08, 2018 , 4 min Read

The startup scene in Toronto, Canada is quite dynamic and energetic. It’s home to numerous ethnic neighbourhoods, like Little India, Chinatown, and Little Jamaica. Foreign individuals represent a good portion of the number of inhabitants in Toronto. This gives Toronto the second-most astounding level of foreign-born inhabitants. Here’s an in-depth overview of the Canadian startup ecosystem.

Canada: Key demographics and stats.

Toronto is Canada’s financial capital, and the home to world-leading research and development, with experienced venture capital and a rapidly growing startup ecosystem. Waterloo, a college town two hours west of Toronto, has the second-highest density of startups in the world and is home to the headquarters of some of Canada’s largest tech companies. The Toronto-Waterloo region boasts a high concentration of the world’s best technical talent with an estimated 2,500 startups, as per a TechToronto report. Not only does the region attract the best and brightest from across Canada, its 16 research universities, notably the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, produce graduates and experts in fields as diverse as quantum computing, theoretical physics, and artificial intelligence (AI).

As per a report by the city of Toronto, there are 60+ business incubators, like DMZ and MaRS, and the growing Toronto tech startup community is seeing a rapid rise in innovative solutions around areas like AI, virtual reality, and augmented reality. About 46 percent of Toronto’s entrepreneurs are aiming to “change the world”, a number that is well above the global average. Diversity is one of Toronto’s main strengths – it is home to virtually all of the world’s culture groups, where over 180 languages and dialects are spoken. Canada ranks first with 13.5 percent female entrepreneurs setting up new businesses.

Opportunity for Indian founders

Opportunities exist in commercialising products and services in the area’s mobile commerce/payment systems, big data analytics, and cloud computing. A number of incubators and accelerators have started to gather momentum in this area. These include INcubes (international network and exchange programme), MaRS Fintech Cluster (urban innovation hub), OneEleven (Canada’s first community for data-driven entrepreneurs), Highline (formed when Toronto’s Extreme Startups and Vancouver-based GrowLab united to provide established entrepreneurs and investors from across the country with a new startup ecosystem), and the Ryerson Futures (one of the largest business incubators and co-working spaces for entrepreneurs in Canada).

In addition, organisations such as the Toronto Financial Services Alliance and the Ontario Centres of Excellence have also taken a critical role in pushing the fintech space forward by engaging with the financial services sector to understand needs and opportunities and creating a forum for dialogue between players in the sector.

If you’re considering expansion in the North American markets, Canada’s ecosystem could be an ideal option for you. The rise of AI and deep tech is playing to Canada’s strengths with its talent pool, and opening up opportunities for scale-up in North America. The country has many attractive traits: diversity, skill-based immigration, open culture, remote work, sophisticated cloud platforms, and new investment vehicles. It also offers a great quality of life, top-tier tech schools, art and design, a supportive government, great healthcare, and an evolving young tech ecosystem.

Collaborations between Canada and India

Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and India’s Department of Science and Technology announced funding of $500,000 each for Zone Startups, owned by Ryerson Futures Inc., to support bilateral exchange of entrepreneurial ventures with a major focus on women-led startups. The funding will enable 20 entrepreneurs from Canada to participate in a soft-landing programme at Zone Startups in Mumbai, and 20 Indian entrepreneurs from India to participate in a soft-landing programme at Zone Startups in Toronto. Zone Startups will also organize an annual two-day seminar in both cities, reaching an additional 60 women in both countries.

This initiative follows Zone Startups’ success with empoWer, which has impacted 35 women entrepreneurs in India, and the Next BIG Idea Contest through which 33 Indian startups have entered Canada over the years. Other than that, the Canada-India Acceleration Program, jointly launched by Carleton University and the All India Council for Technical Education, will empower women entrepreneurs to scale-up their innovative solutions internationally to address global challenges. The programme will provide women entrepreneurs with access to funding, talent, mentorship, and potential customers.

The Blockchain Research Institute of Canada, a world leader exploring blockchain opportunities and challenges, will initiate a memorandum of understanding with India’s NASSCOM. This partnership will accelerate India’s adoption of this technology for innovation, prosperity, and good government.

All of this together makes a pretty compelling picture for Indian entrepreneurs to explore the country to expand on their startup dreams.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)