Canada’s H-1B visa play strikes a nerve as feds pick tech companies for Hypergrowth

Immigration minister Sean Fraser on stage at Collision
Plus: Shopify reveals new AI suite, corporate credit card, and more.

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Top Stories of the Week


SHOPIFY REVEALS AI SUITE, BUSINESS CREDIT CARD, DROPSHIPPING-LIKE FEATURE IN LATEST PRODUCT SHOWCASE

Earlier this month, Ottawa retail-tech giant Shopify unveiled its AI assistant for merchants, Sidekick, which the company claims can craft and complete administrative tasks such as responding to customer inquiries and making design changes to the online storefront.

Now, the company has unveiled several new products and updates for its merchants as part of its 2023 Summer Editions. This includes a business credit card for everyday expenses, created in partnership with Stripe, and dropshipping-like capabilities through its new Shopify Collective offering.


LONG-TIME VP AND PRODUCT LEADER SATISH KANWAR DEPARTS SHOPIFY

Kanwar joined Shopify in August 2013 through its acquisition of design agency Jet Cooper, which he co-founded with Verne Ho in 2009. Since then, Kanwar has served in a variety of roles, including sitting at the opposite side of the table as Shopify bought other firms, like Toronto-based mobile studio Tiny Hearts.


CANADIAN TECH UNICORNS ADA, CLIO, LIGHTSPEED AMONG FIRST COHORT OF CANADA’S GLOBAL HYPERGROWTH PROJECT

According to the federal government, GHP is meant to help its selection of businesses become “anchor firms,” which it defines as companies with annual revenues of over $1 billion and employees numbering more than 1,500 people.


IMPACT OF CANADA’S H-1B VISA TALENT GRAB MAY GO WELL BEYOND 10,000 APPLICANTS

Though Canada's new H-1B visa program was only announced weeks ago, it’s already having a profound impact. In developing a visa program unapologetically piggybacking on America’s H-1B visa process—and in many ways, offering a clear contrast to its limitations—the IRCC appears to have struck a nerve.


EAST COAST LATEST CANADIAN REGION TO ACT TO PROTECT ITS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY WITH NEW PROGRAM

Less than two weeks after British Columbia announced a program to protect its intellectual property (IP), the east coast has announced a similar move.

Springboard Atlantic, a network of Atlantic Canadian Universities and colleges, said its new program, IP Advantage, will assist startups in Atlantic Canada develop a robust IP strategy and implement it, while raising awareness of IP in the region.


VITAL BIOSCIENCES REVEALS DESKTOP BLOOD-TESTING DEVICE WITH FUNDING FROM OPENAI, SALESFORCE CEOS

Toronto-based Vital Biosciences has revealed its desktop blood-testing solution this week, following the wave of startups developing solutions to make diagnostics more accessible in the wake of the high-profile collapse Silicon Valley’s Theranos.

According to Vital, it has raised $48 million in funding to date with backing from a number of notable leaders in tech, such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.


CANADIAN VENTURE STATUS REPORT: Q2 2023

New data from briefed.in gives an optimistic outlook on the venture health of Canada's biggest tech ecosystems in Q2 2023.

Following a sluggish start to the year, Toronto and British Columbia's tech ecosystems saw a resurgence in venture funding in the quarter, mostly due to larger deals between fewer companies. 

Alberta tech is on pace to eclipse its 2022, with companies raising a lively $123.8M in Q2 2023. Québec followed suit, maintaining an upward trajectory in the quarter, growing 42 percent from Q1 2023 and 81 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, venture deal volume in the Waterloo Region reached a three-year low in the second quarter of 2023, but unreported deals could be shaping an unfair perception of the local tech sector.


Latest Funding, Acquisitions, and Layoffs


  • TOR – Practice Better acquires That Clean Life (read more)

  • TOR – Foxquilt – $12M (read more)

  • TOR – Wellfield Technologies acquires Ottawa-based Brane Trust (read more)

  • TOR – Toronto Business Development Centre – $3.3M (read more)

  • TOR – ThinkData Works – $2M (read more)

  • TOR – Liberum – $1.8M (read more)

  • TOR – Creyos Health – $1.5M (read more)

  • TOR – Aux Mode – $1.2M (read more)

  • TOR – Manifest Climate – $1M (read more)

  • TOR – Semantic Health – $500K (read more)

  • OTT – Solink – $60M (read more)

  • OTT – MindBridge – $60M (read more)

  • OTT – Solace – $10M (read more)

  • MTL – Sun Life acquires Dialogue Health Technologies (read more)

  • MTL – HumanFirst – $5M (read more)


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    Shop Dynabook Tecra A40 & A50 to get big features for small business.


    The BetaKit Podcast


    JESSE WENTE WANTS CANADA TO "TAX THE HELL" OUT OF BIG TECH, BUT HE'S OPEN TO CUTTING DEALS

    "For a lot of Indigenous storytellers, there's a lot of interest in those [tech] platforms, because those entities haven't said no to our community for 50 years."

    Indigenous content creators are caught between a rock and a hard place with the Online Streaming Act and the Online News Act—it's sadly familiar territory.

    Award-winning Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, and arts leader Jesse Wente joins to evaluate the options offered by Big Tech, traditional media, and the Canadian government before providing strong prescriptions better suited to the situation.


    LIVE FROM STARTUPFEST!

    “The BetaKit Podcast is very much a pro-dog podcast.”

    Dr. Theresa Johnson (Airbnb), Harper Reed (General Galactic Corporation), and Neha Khera (2048 Ventures) join for a wide-ranging conversation on shooting particles at satellites (for science!), founder-market fit, working for Barack Obama, when to quit, shutting down your company, angel and early-stage investing, and building jetpacks for dogs (for science!). Recorded in front of a live audience on the main stage of Startupfest 2023.


Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a freelancer with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in history, tech, and gaming. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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