Your guide to the startup community on Canada’s East Coast
The Atlantic Canadian Startup Community has grown to a cluster of more than 550 companies, employing more than 5,500 people and exporting innovative products around the world.
Supporting these companies is a network of over 50 groups. They vary in their geographic and sectoral focus, specialization, and whether they provide funding.
This Roadmap is designed to help you understand the community of innovation companies and the ecosystem that supports them. We hope it will help you find organizations that can help you. We’ve also included suggestions on how corporations, researchers, potential investors, and groups from outside the region can get involved.
All the information is as of November 2019.
About The East Coast Startup Community
In 2011-12, two Fredericton companies were purchased by American multinationals, generating the type of buzz that can launch a movement. Social media monitoring company Radian6 was bought by Salesforce.com for $326 million, and cybersecurity company Q1 Labs was acquired by IBM, reportedly for more than $600 million.
These deals sparked the growth of the startup community – the group of Atlantic Canadian-owned companies that are producing innovative products for global markets. The community comprises companies in a range of sectors, including IT, life sciences, cleantech and advanced manufacturing. The ocean technology sector has been growing as the region is home to Canada’s Ocean Supercluster.
The startup community has grown strongly, with the number of startups surging from 263 to 550 in five years. To accommodate this growth, a range of support organizations have launched and/or grown. All provide instruction or mentorship, and some provide funding. One of the distinguishing features of the Atlantic Canadian startup ecosystem is the availability of non-dilutive financing – that is, loans or grants.
To view Entrevestor’s research on the Atlantic Canadian startup community, click here.
The ecosystem is fragmented to a certain extent, but its players have also overcome some barriers to produce a structure that supports innovation companies. It’s the only startup ecosystem in Canada spanning four provinces (and two time zones). It covers a geographic area the size of France and Germany combined, which is a factor as entrepreneurs often need to travel for face-to-face meetings. And it has required cooperation between three levels of government in these four provinces.
Navigating The Ecosystem
If you have questions about startups and innovation in Atlantic Canada, you should find some answers here. This section can get you started, whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur in Atlantic Canada, an entrepreneur considering a move to the region, a corporation interested in innovation or a possible angel investor.
Click on these options to find your way through the startup ecosystem:
We have counted more than 50 organizations that offer direct support to startups. The good news is that they offer a range of programs and services, including mentorship, funding, office space, lab space, investment and non-dilutive funding. The problem is there are so many they can be hard to keep track of, and many programs change constantly.
In this section, we have tried to categorize the organizations based into services you may be looking for and tell you about the highest-profile programs. You can also visit Innovation Canada's online guide to finding government programs, including funding. Also, The Halifax Partnership's Innovation District website has a search function for programs and facilities in Halifax and across Atlantic Canada. Check out the Resource Hub on its website.
A word of advice: talk to the people at these organizations to help find your way through the maze of programs. The ecosystem is too complicated to give a simple description here. But by sitting down with people in these organizations, you can tap into a wealth of knowledge that can help you find solutions to your problems.
This Ecosystem Roadmap would not have been possible without the support of numerous organizations, and we would like to thank the following partners for their help: