Canadian tech unicorns Ada, Clio, Lightspeed among first cohort of Canada’s Global Hypergrowth Project

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Canada aims to take companies from $1-billion ‘unicorn’ valuation to $1-billion in annual revenue.

Canadian tech unicorns Ada, Clio, and Lightspeed are among the eight businesses selected to take part in the first cohort of the Government of Canada’s Global Hypergrowth Project (GHP).

Each company participating in the GHP will work with an account executive to help them navigate federal resources. This includes help with international expansions, acquiring talent, navigating funding opportunities, protecting intellectual property, identifying export opportunities, and participating in procurement processes.

“[GHP] … is a good approach to growing innovative companies that will compete globally.”
– Council of Canadian Innovators

The companies in GHP’s first cohort all operate in the technology sector and produce solutions for a wide range of industries, including retail, health, agriculture, legal services, and pharmaceuticals. It also varies in company sizes, including unicorns, or companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

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.

One Canadian company that meets the federal government’s criteria for an “anchor firm” is Ottawa’s retail tech giant Shopify, which generated more than $1.7 billion USD in the fourth quarter of 2022 alone and employs over 9,200 people.

Last year, Communitech identified 35 Canadian tech companies on the path to reaching $1 billion in annual revenue, which included some members of GHP’s first cohort, such as Ada and Clio. Communitech reported that in 2021, those 35 companies generated $5.1 billion in combined annual revenue and recorded an average annual revenue of $141 million.

Here are all of the businesses in GHP’s first cohort:

Businesses of all sizes have experienced a tumultuous several years marked by a global pandemic, geopolitical tensions, and higher costs of borrowing. Multiple members of this cohort made reductions to its workforce as a result of the tight fundraising environment, including Ada and Lightspeed.

RELATED: Layoffs persist at Canadian tech companies amid bleak outlook for 2023

GHP is a new scale-up service meant to help Canadian firms navigate and overcome challenges in order to accelerate their growth and help create jobs in local communities across Canada. It was initially unveiled in 2022 with the goal of supporting up to 15 Canadian firms.

The creation of such a program has been discussed since at least 2018, when a report from Economic Strategy Tables called for the federal government to offer “expedited and priority access to government services and funding” to select firms with major growth potential and market traction via a new “hypergrowth passport.”

According to Nick Schiavo, director of federal affairs at the lobbying group Council of Canadian Innovators, Canada has “traditionally struggled to grow domestic companies to a size where they can compete in global markets as major players.”

“A targeted program that connects proven scale-ups to government services … is a good approach to growing the kinds of innovative companies that will compete globally and create wealth that gets reinvested into Canada,” Schiavo added.

Participants for the first GHP cohort were selected after an initial public callout and an independent evaluation process. A panel of experienced business leaders supported the process by reviewing submissions and offering recommendations.

The GHP’s selection panel was co-chaired by BDC’s Deep Tech Venture Fund lead Thomas Park and Maverix Private Equity’s John Ruffolo. It also comprises The51’s co-CEO Judy Fairburn and Knix CEO Joanna Griffiths, among others.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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