It would have been difficult for New Brunswick in 2019 to outdo its performance of 2018, especially in terms of funding.

The province in 2018 generated $84.7 million in equity funding, including three investment rounds worth more than $10 million each, by Sonrai Security, Introhive and Resson. Funding in 2019 fell by three-quarters, down to $19.5 million. It seems like a disappointment, but we should bear in mind that New Brunswick in 2019 recorded the fourth-highest level of funding of any year since 2011.

As we highlight the New Brunswick section of our 2019 Atlantic Canada Startup Data report, we should remember that the wave of funding in 2018 bore fruit for many startups in 2019. We received revenue information from 23 New Brunswick companies and they revealed healthy growth in sales. Their collective revenues rose 86 percent from the previous year.

NB Startup Data Fact Box 2019

Number of Companies  180
Funds Raised  $19.5M
Number of Jobs  1799.5
Job growth       29%
Revenue growth                                                           86%
Elite Companies 10
Scaling companies   13
Failures       18
Zombies  13

Source: Entrevestor Databank

Our research showed New Brunswick startups generated a 29 percent increase in employment – the strongest job growth in the region. Our news coverage captured the progress made by several companies and every phase of development. We’ve reported on promising newcomers like cybersecurity company Gray Wolf Analytics and scaling companies Kognitiv Spark, which was named to Delotte’s Companies-to-Watch list as a part of the 2019 Technology Fast50 Awards, and was a finalist in the 2019 Microsoft Mixed Reality Partner of the Year Award.

Agtech company SomaDetect raised $2.6 million in equity financing, and then received a $3.9 million grant from SDTC. Fredericton’s SmartSkin raised $4.5 million in non-dilutive funding. And Saint John-based Gemba Software Solutions (the developer of ProcedureFlow) raised $2.9 million in equity funding from Build Ventures, Innovatia and NBIF.

The biggest corporate news for the year in New Brunswick concerned Introhive, which became the first Atlantic Canadian company to breach the top 10 of the Deloitte Tech Fast50. Introhive went on to make the Fast50 list again in 2020, placing 19th.

The Block One Incubator Has Opened in Saint John

Through it all, the University of New Brunswick’s J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship continued to nurture young companies, many of which received kudos throughout the year.

Canum Nanomaterials won the 2019 Breakthru competition, while Gray Wolf Analytics (headed by TME Chair Dhirendra Shukla) and Vertiball gained customers through the year. Potential Motors brought Marcel LeBrun and Chris Newton, two of the leading tech investors in the region, on to its board, later raising $2.5 million in funding. 

UNB TME, Planet Hatch and Ignite Fredericton have fostered an environment in Fredericton in which startups are thriving. The capital city accounted for 46 percent of the startup jobs, 66 percent of the new companies, and 74 percent of the funding in New Brunswick in 2019. Planet Hatch’s multi-sectoral approach combines incubation space, funding and programs to help launch and scale companies. And its export and sales accelerators help companies grow their revenues.

What’s troubling is the lack of new companies in the other New Brunswick centres, because it indicates they risk being left behind by the faster-growing communities. We counted eight new companies in Moncton and three in Saint John. We might have missed some but for several years we’ve seen these cities lagging in the launching of new companies.

Having said that, we do have to recognize the work being carried out at Venn Innovation in Moncton. The organization has extended its mandate beyond the Moncton area to become an innovation hub for the province and region. It has been working with academic Jonathan Calof to host competitive intelligence seminars around the region. Its Entrepreneur-in-Residence Alicia Roisman Ismach is leading the development and support of a fintech cluster in Atlantic Canada, heading a trade mission to the Money 20/20 conference last October. It’s also great to see Block One open up in Saint John.

Ismach is part of Venn’s international recruitment drive, bringing in specialist talent from around the world. Ismach is a native of Argentina who has spent most of her career in the Israeli tech sector. She joined Venn at the same time as Mexican startup specialist Alicia Grayeb, who is Venn’s Manager of Startup Services.