Halifax-based QRA Corp. has been named to the first cohort of the Lazaridis Institute Canadian Scale-Up Program, which will help promising Canadian startups to go through their growth stage.
Named for BlackBerry Co-Founder Mike Lazaridis, the institute at Wilfrid Laurier University set up the program to help 10 companies from across the country to extend their sales to the global market. QRA is the only company from outside Ontario or Quebec selected for the program.
Growing out of a research project at Dalhousie University, QRA has developed technology that helps large manufacturers identify flaws in complicated machinery early in the design stage. The idea is to work out the kinks before the manufacturer spends millions of dollars prototyping a machine that has ill-matched components.
“The QRA team is at a critical point for growth; we need to scale now in order to operationally handle the many incoming clients, countries, and industries,” said QRA Co-Founder and CEO Jordan Kyriakidis in a statement. “We’re really very happy, honoured, and excited to have been chosen to pilot the Lazaridis Institute Canadian Scale-Up Program.”
The highly anticipated program will bring high-potential firms together with an elite group of experts, all of whom have experience in scaling globally competitive enterprises.
A panel of experts consisting of venture capitalists and leading Canadian and American technology executives considered more than 100 applications and video submissions to assess each firm’s potential for growth. A short list of applicants was invited to take part in video interviews with the selection panel, from which the top 10 companies were chosen.
The 10 selected firms are each at a key turning point in their growth trajectory. They hail from Montreal, Halifax, Waterloo, Toronto, Chatham and Ottawa. They have innovative, made-in-Canada technologies that solve critical problems, from managing hospital operations and optimizing complex system development, to creating better customer experiences, cybersecurity, and sourcing heavy construction equipment on an on-demand basis – to name just a few.
A recent survey from the Business Development Bank of Canada found that only one in 1,000 Canadian small businesses grew beyond the 100-employee mark in 2013, a 40-per cent drop from 2001. Last year, only four Canadian technology companies went to IPO. These numbers do not bode well for the long-term development of the tech ecosystem in Canada. The Lazaridis Institute Canadian Scale-Up Program is part of a broader effort to create conditions in Canada that will enable tech startups to thrive and grow without being bought, winding down prematurely or moving elsewhere.