Calgary only Canadian tech city not to drop in Startup Genome’s annual ecosystem report

Startup Blink report tells different story, with Canadian cities rising up through the ranks.

Canadian cities – with the exception of Calgary – dropped in rankings from 2021 in Startup Genome’s annual global startup ecosystem report.

As the highest ranked Canadian city, Toronto-Waterloo slipped from 14th to 17th spot, while Vancouver dropped one spot to 30th, following 2021 when it fell four spots to 29th.

Despite the slips in standings, no one’s going to be writing off any of the Canadian cities any time soon.

Montréal landed at 36th down from 31st, tying with four other cities for the honour. The other cities were Munich, Melbourne, Mumbai, and Hangzhou. Ottawa fell in the 81 to 90 range of the top 100, slipping from the 61 to 70 range the previous year.

Only Calgary managed to maintain its standing in the 61 to 70 range from 2021.

Startup Genome assigns scores to each city on a scale of one (being the lowest) to 10, on such metrics as total exit valuations, the number of local investors, and more.

Factors appearing to impact Toronto-Waterloo’s standings this time around included poor rankings for ecosystem value, the number of exits, and the number of startups succeeding in the ecosystem.

Vancouver only registered moderate success in areas such as the number of exits, and startup success; and showed poorly for its number of local investors, their experience, and their activity in the first quarter of 2022. The city also was handed a low score for the cumulative number of early-stage companies started and funded at the Series A stage.

Montréal received an extremely low score for the economic impact of its ecosystem, calculated as the total exit valuation and startup valuations over a two-and-a-half-year time period.

It comes as no surprise to see Calgary emerging as a strong contender among the Canadian cities. Local tech startups eclipsed the city’s previous venture funding record in 2021, thanks in part to a surge in deal volume in the first quarter of the year, according to the’s latest ecosystem report.

Activity in Alberta is generally healthy, as local startups in the province’s tech sector collectively passed a new record for quarterly venture funding, with Alberta tech companies raising $205.6 million in the first quarter of 2022. That represents a 212 percent increase in investment from the fourth quarter of 2021, and a 26 percent increase year-over-year.

RELATED: Calgary broke its venture funding record in 2021 as deal volume almost doubled

Despite the slips in standings, no one’s going to be writing off any of the Canadian cities any time soon. Despite the drop on the list, the report noted that Toronto-Waterloo is home to North America’s third largest and fastest growing innovation ecosystem and that in 2021 a record $7.7 billion went to startups in Toronto and Waterloo.

Some of the notable deals included EdTech startup Applyboard’s $375 million Series D round; Deep Genomics’ $180 million Series C funding; GaN Systems’ $150 million raise; and 1Password’s $744 million Series C round.

The report also noted that Montréal’s startups attracted $1.6 billion in funding in 2021, a new record for the city. Montréal also produced four unicorns in recent years, one of which was traveltech firm, Hopper in 2021.

Vancouver proved that it was no slouch, either. Five unicorns emerged from the west coast city over the time frame of the report, including online identity marketplace Trulioo, legal software startup Clio, and NFT company Dapper Labs.

RELATED: Dapper Labs raises $305 million to expand NBA Top Shot product to other sports leagues

Globally, the same five ecosystems remain at the top of Startup Genome’s rankings as in 2020 and 2021, with some shuffles in placement. Silicon Valley tops the list followed by New York City and London tied for second, Boston, and then Beijing. Boston and Beijing switched spots for 2022.

Founded in 2016, Startup Genome is a San Francisco-based policy advisory and research organization focused on measuring startup ecosystem performance. Startup Genome’s overall startup ecosystem rankings are based on five factors: performance, funding, market reach, experience and talent, connectedness, and knowledge.

Startup Genome derives its data from interviews with over 100 experts, its startup ecosystem survey, Dealroom, Crunchbase, and PitchBook, and a network of local partners, including accelerators, and incubators like Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and Kitchener-Waterloo’s Communitech.

A report from Startup Blink tells a different story from the Startup Genome report. It shows Canadian cities, although lower in the rankings overall than in Startup Genome’s report, rising up instead of declining. Five of Canada’s top ecosystems improved their rankings, while a sixth – Ottawa – maintained the same spot as in 2021.

Startup Blink describes itself as the world’s most comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center.

Toronto is Canada’s only top 30 city at 24th, while Vancouver rose two spots to 40th in the Startup Blink report. Montréal climbed one spot to 45. Overall, the report called it a “remarkable achievement” on Canada’s part, having three cities included in the top 50 of Startup Blink’s Startup Ecosystem Report 2022. The report noted that that feat has only been achieved by three vastly more populated countries: the United States, China, and India.

“This is proof that Canada has built a national ecosystem with a few very strong centers of power,” the report noted.

Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo cracked the top 100 at 89th, and 91st respectively in the Startup Blink Report. Calgary jumped up 12 spots to the rank of 104th, while Quebec City fell 17 spots to 142nd.

“Canada now has 41 cities in the top 1,000, versus only 30 ranked cities in 2021, indicating the strength and variety of the Canadian startup scene,” according to the report.

In terms of rankings for countries, Canada performed exceedingly well in the Startup Blink report, showing up as the fourth highest country after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel. While Canada’s rank remained unchanged, the report said the country is experiencing “significant momentum.” It is moving in on Israel’s spot, and has created a substantial gap over all the ecosystems below it, “creating a big four club of countries that have established dominant leading positions,” the report noted.

Despite the fact the two reports offer differing snapshots of the Canadian cities’ progress, both agree that Canada’s tech ecosystem is strong overall.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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