Calgary ranks among world’s top 50 emerging startup ecosystems

June 10, 2024
Innovation New Economy Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund Technology
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Companies, capital and talent find limitless opportunities in Calgary. The city now places among the top 50 ecosystems globally on Startup Genome’s Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems list, a rise in ranking from 2023. 

Launched during London Tech Week, the 2024 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network provides insights about startup trends around the world, ranking which global ecosystems are currently driving innovation. 

From Jul. 2021 to Dec. 2023, Calgary’s tech ecosystem added $8.1 billion in value to the Calgary economy. This signals rapid growth in the ecosystem, as Calgary’s ecosystem value grew by 83 per cent over the last three years, higher than the global average of 46 per cent. 

The report defined ecosystem value as the measure of the economic impact of the system, calculated as the total exit valuation and startup valuations over a two and-a-half year period. 

Startup activity momentum in Calgary’s key sectors, including cleantech, fintech and agtech was also highlighted in the report. 

“Not too long ago, Calgary wasn't on the map as a world-class destination for startups or a hub for innovation,” said Brad Parry, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development, and CEO, Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund. 

“But with talent and investment flowing into Calgary, we have all the right pieces in place for our innovation economy to continue its pace as one of the fastest growing tech-hubs in the world and allow us to continue competing on the global stage.” 

In addition to its global rank, Calgary’s startup ecosystem received recognition in North America as a Top 10 in North American Ecosystem in Affordable Talent, Top 25 Ecosystem in Bang for Buck, Top 30 Ecosystem in Funding and Top 30 Ecosystem in Performance. 

“Calgary has long been defined as a city of community builders who rise to tackle any challenge put in front of us. That Calgary spirit is on full display within our technology ecosystem,” said Terry Rock, President & CEO, Platform Calgary. 

“All of the progress made in recent years has been because of one of the most dynamic and collaborative communities on the planet. And the best is yet to come.”

Access to funding and support key to Calgary's success

The GSER noted Calgary’s low cost of doing business, skilled talent pool and high quality of life as characteristics of the ecosystem’s growth success. 

In 2023, the city was named the seventh most livable city in the world and saw an influx of almost 100,000 individuals, adding to a rapidly growing tech talent workforce and boosting momentum in the innovation ecosystem. 

This record population growth signalsthat talent and businesses are looking to Calgary as a place of opportunity – specifically in the tech and startup scene. 

Calgary is also known for its supportive and collaborative business community - one that many entrepreneurs and startups access through Platform Calgary. 

Opened in 2022, Platform Calgary connects entrepreneurs to a network of partners focused on helping startups launch and grow at every step, from ideation through to scale. The organization now supports over 1,300 entrepreneurs and over 500 member companies through programs and mentorship, with the help of over 120 ecosystem partners. 

Not only is Calgary a great place to build a life and a business, but the city continues to attract high amounts of venture capital (VC) investments, helping startups scale to the size of their ambitions. 

Calgary attracted 74 per cent of Alberta’s venture capital deals, securing $501M across 64 deals in 2023, according to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. 

To date, the city is home to seven narwhals — companies that are valued at over $1 billion CAD — including Neo Financial, Orennia, OneVest, ZayZoon, Summit-Nanotech, Convrg Innovations (Westgen Technologies) and Eavor. This list has seen an increase from four in 2023. 

Startups, entrepreneurs and companies also find access to capital through the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF). OCIF finds, fuels and fosters opportunities with the highest potential benefit to Calgary’s economic future.  

The portfolio of projects supported by OCIF includes those in the advanced manufacturing, aerospace, agribusiness, digital media and entertainment, energy and environment, financial services, life sciences and technology sectors. 

Among the OCIF investments are world class incubators and accelerators, including SVG Ventures | Thrive, Plug and Play Alberta and CDL-Rockies. 

By May 2024, the fund has found 28 opportunities - fueling them with $83.9 million in total funds committed and $37 million disbursed based on milestone achievements. 

These opportunities have generated significant economic benefits for Calgary, including over 3,300 jobs created or retained, 809 companies created or scaled and $878 million in economic activity – nearly 10x the return on funds committed. 

With momentum growing, Calgary continues to be a city home to innovators and blue sky thinkers - full of unexpected possibilities and opportunities.

GSER 2024 Methodology 

Now in its 12th year, the GSER provides insights into the world’s leading startup ecosystems, emerging trends and key challenges facing entrepreneurs. It is based on extensive research and analysis of data from 4.5 million startups across 300 global ecosystems and over a decade of independent research and providing policy advice to more than 160 economic and innovation ministries and public/private agencies in over 55 countries. 

Platform Calgary, the Calgary Innovation Coalition and Calgary Economic Development partnered with Startup Genome to obtain an updated baseline measure of Calgary’s startup ecosystem.

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