In January, PwC Canada and CB Insights released the MoneyTree report analyzing Canadian VC activity for Q4 and all of 2017. In a year where Canadian companies raised $3.3 billion CAD ($2.7 billion USD) total, the report found that seed stage investments are declining across the country -- a sign that Canadian companies are finding their product-market fit, according to PwC's Michael Dingle. The report also tracks Canadian cities showing significant activity within their startup ecosystems. To gather a yearlong perspective on how Canada's tech hubs have performed, BetaKit spoke with PwC's tech team from each city to talk standout sectors, and what each ecosystem needs. Toronto came at the top of the list, with $976 million ($770 million USD) invested across 115 deals in 2017, while Waterloo raised $229 million ($181.9 million USD) across 16 deals.
Notman House is a local ICT mecca in Montreal. Google's $3.4 million investment in the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) and new lab opening in The City of Saints not only highlights the company's banking on artificial intelligence, but its faith in Canada's ICT industries to help it in that quest. Montreal is running neck and neck with Toronto and Vancouver to attract talent and incubate businesses. Though Ontario holds a lead over it, Montreal remains, "the second most popular location for most types of ICT jobs" after Toronto according to the Canadian Information and Communications Technology Council, and over 222,000 people are employed across various industries, from gaming to AI R&D. The lab will be led by University of Montreal and Twitter alumnus Hugo Larochelle, whose like-minded associates at MILA are already heavily invested in deep learning applications.
I recently spent a week in Toronto and Montreal working with new startups and can't believe the passion and energy I felt there. The DNA of Canadian entrepreneurs is charged with technical competency, commitment to creating value and a drive to make a difference. Unfortunately the Canadian startup scene has been plagued with a lack of investment dollars and experience, resulting in few mergers and acquisitions and major IPOs. The conditions to create the next unicorn have never been met. Canada, a place where education in subjects like math has always been strong, hasn't seen the startup success of other countries.
Welcome to the now "annual" Canadian AI Ecosystem Map. What a year it's been. The report also goes to feed the excellent (and searchable!) directory at Canada.ai. The point of creating this map was to emphasize that the strength lies in the Canadian AI Ecosystem, as opposed to just one city's. This year, we've seen ties strengthen, but also some weaknesses exposed.