We were delighted to participate in the presentation of the Halifax Index on Thursday, explaining to the Halifax Partnership’s annual event the progress of the city’s startup community in 2022.

Each spring, the Partnership releases its Halifax Index, a detailed examination of every conceivable facet of the city’s economy and life. For the past few years, Entrevestor has participated by presenting the Halifax portion of our Atlantic Canada Startup Data report. The full report will be issued this summer, but we can now reveal some of the findings for Halifax.

During the presentation, I emphasized a few highlights of the city’s development as a startup hub. Halifax has become an XPRIZE hotspot, with such companies as CarbonCure Technologies, Planetary Technologies and Smallfood all being recognized by high-profile competitions. We also cited two pillars of the local ecosystem as making great strides lately: the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, or COVE, has become the gold standard for ocean enterprise facilities in Canada; and Volta has quickly transformed itself from an organization defined by its physical space to one that is using AI to customize support for its startups.

During the presentation, I said that 2022 was the best year ever for funding by Halifax startups. As we can see from the chart below, the city’s innovation-driven companies raised more capital in 2021, but it was dominated by a massive $196 million transaction by Meta Materials Inc. The $222 million raised in 2022 was distributed among more startups, therefore benefited the startup community more.

The main theme of our research this year is that the pace of growth has been slowing down in terms of revenues, employees and the number of companies, but the best companies are growing in leaps and bounds.

There was a 7 percent growth in the number of companies, but the size of the community appears to have plateaued. We commonly saw growth of about 15 percent per year before the pandemic.

Job growth was about 34 percent in 2021, and fell to 6 percent in 2022. So far, this has been a beneficial development because it has eased the tight labour market of a year ago.

There are still a lot of companies that are doubling or tripling revenues annually, but overall revenue growth has slowed to a band of 40 to 50 percent.

For the second year running, we have collected data on diversity, equity and inclusion in Atlantic Canadian startups. As we can see from this chart, Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs are still under-represented in Halifax’s startups. However, we’re seeing a lot of improvement in the number of female founders and the number of immigrant entrepreneurs.

The Halifax Index also highlighted immigration trends in the city. It noted that the addition of almost 21,000 people to Halifax in 2022 was close to double the previous annual record. The economics team, led by Halifax Partnership Chief Economist Ian Munro, found that GDP has been growing but there are concerns about the tight labour market, high housing costs and access to healthcare. You can find the full Halifax Index here.