Startups can scale to the size of their ambitions in Calgary. The city’s startup ecosystem moved up a bracket in Startup Genome’s Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems list and now places among the top 60 ecosystems globally.
Released during the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam, Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) 2023 evaluates the performance and growth of innovation ecosystems around the world. The publication is acknowledged as an influential report by entrepreneurs, businesses, policy makers and the investment community, and serves as a pulse check for jurisdictions that make the list.
Just five years ago, Calgary wasn’t on the map as a centre of tech and innovation and didn’t place on the list. Fast forward to 2023 and Calgary is now recognized as a city with talent, capital and companies driving the continued momentum of its startup community.
“The Calgary community is innovative, passionate and purpose driven. Our rise in Startup Genome’s global ranking is proof that Calgary’s emerging tech and innovation ecosystem is internationally revered as one of bright minds and big ideas solving global challenges,” said Brad Parry, President and CEO, Calgary Economic Development and CEO, Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund.
In addition to its global rank, Calgary's startup ecosystem received recognition in North America as a Top 10 Ecosystem for Performance, Top 30 Ecosystem in Funding and Top 40 Emerging Ecosystem in Talent & Experience.
"This report validates much of what we have experienced since opening the Platform Innovation Centre in 2022. Calgary has all of the building blocks for a thriving innovation ecosystem that can rival peer cities like Manila, Bahrain, and Buenos Aires,” said Terry Rock, CEO, Platform Calgary.
“Despite headwinds impacting much of the tech sector globally, Calgary continued to see growth in the last year. The resilience in our ecosystem sets Calgary up well to continue making important progress in the years ahead."
With a commitment to innovation outlined in the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, community partners are building an environment where Calgary companies can accelerate and scale globally.
Access to resources and funding underpin Calgary’s startup ecosystem
The GSER acknowledges access to community resources and increased levels of venture capital (VC) investment have helped Calgary rise in ranks from prior years.
Platform Calgary opened its doors in 2022, the first purpose-built hub for tech and innovation in Calgary. A gathering space for entrepreneurs, community organizations and venture capital firms, over 100 partners offer startup support services and event space.
Reflecting the diversity of Calgary’s key sectors, the GSER identifies Cleantech, Fintech, Agtech & New Food as Calgary’s startup sub-sector strengths.
Community hubs including the Energy Transition Centre which opened in 2022, corporate development centres like EY’s Finance Centre of Excellence and incubators such as SVG Ventures | Thrive and the Smart Ag Innovation Centre build a unique pool of resources for Calgary’s visionaries.
Beyond mentorship and community connections, access to funding is critical for startups to scale.
Calgary saw the fourth highest investment attraction in Canada in 2022, with $647 million invested through 64 deals which marks a 13 per cent increase in VC investment from the year prior, according to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.
As reported by the GSER, Calgary’s total VC funding increased from $930 million to $2.3 billion between 2018 and 2022.
In addition to strong VC numbers, strategic investments by the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) continue to build capacity in Calgary’s startup ecosystem despite changing economic conditions.
The $100 million fund is a catalyst to attract further investment to the Calgary community through agreements that help scale local early-stage companies, strengthen the talent pipeline and position Calgary as an opportunity-rich global innovation destination. In 2022, OCIF supported key players including Combine Venture Builders, Avatar Innovations, Thin Air Labs, Movement51 and anchor companies IBM and Mphasis.
To date, several Calgary-based tech companies have been valued at over $1 billion CAD, including Neo Financial, Benevity and Shareworks.
Calgary’s startup ecosystem valuation more than doubled and increased from $2.5 billion to $5.2 billion between 2020 and 2022. A collaborative business environment and active innovation community is starting to set Calgary apart from other jurisdictions.
Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023 Methodology
The GSER is based on data from thousands of startup founders and research on over 3.5 million companies. It benchmarked Calgary against more than 290 startup ecosystems with metrics required to create a dynamic entrepreneurial environment. 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.
For more information on Calgary’s startup ecosystem, visit Startup Genome’s website.
Learn more about Calgary’s tech and innovation scene on LiveTechLoveLife.com.