Vancouver, Toronto-Waterloo, Calgary among the top 50 global cleantech ecosystems

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Atlantic Canada ranks third in top North American oceantech startup ecosystems.

Atlantic Canada’s startup ecosystem is carving a significant niche in the global blue economy, according to a new report from Startup Genome.

Startup Genome’s released its climate tech-focused startup ecosystem report Thursday, which ranks global ecosystems based on the current state of startup activity in cleantech and the “blue economy,” which the report defines as technologies specific to ocean innovation.

These results indicate that Atlantic Canada remains Canada’s strongest blue economy startup ecosystem.

The report ranked Atlantic Canada eighth in the top blue economy startup ecosystem rankings, and an impressive third-place in the top five blue economy startup ecosystems in North America, only behind Silicon Valley and New York. The region moved up two spots from its tenth-place ranking in 2022.

These results indicate that Atlantic Canada, which encompasses New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, remains Canada’s strongest blue economy startup ecosystem.

Atlantic Canada’s oceantech sector has gained international recognition in the last few years. The region is home to the federal government-run Ocean Supercluster, which partnered with Startup Genome to produce its 2023 climate tech report.

The Supercluster aims for the Canadian ocean sector to grow from $39 billion CAD in 2019 to $220 billion CAD by 2035. The organization has approximately 600 members and a project portfolio valued at $420 million. Earlier this month, the Supercluster doled out $20 million to nine AI-based ocean projects, which came from the federal government’s Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.

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“As an ocean nation, we have a huge opportunity for growth that can be transformational, helping tackle climate change globally and creating significant growth for communities in the process,” Nancy Andrews, chief engagement and communications officer at the Ocean Supercluster, said as part of Startup Genome’s report.

Atlantic Canada is also home to several prominent oceantech startups, including Xpertsea, Mara Renewables, and Planetary Technologies. Last month, a new global association launched in Halifax to accelerate cleantech and foodtech solutions in the alternative seafood industry.

Atlantic Canada was not the only Canadian region to break Startup Genome’s blue economy rankings: Vancouver ranked at 14th place, its same ranking in 2022, while Toronto-Waterloo also placed in the top 30 ecosystems, tied neck and neck with New Zealand, Zurich, Bristol, and Austin.

Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary rank in the top cleantech ecosystems

As for Startup Genome’s cleantech ecosystem rankings, three Canadian regions cracked the top 50 list: Vancouver, Toronto-Waterloo, and Calgary. The country’s largest ecosystems, Vancouver and Toronto-Waterloo, ranked at 12th and 13th place, respectively, while Vancouver ranked in the top five cleantech ecosystems in North America.

Vancouver and its local tech stakeholders have made efforts in recent years to establish British Columbia as Canada’s cleantech epicentre. The province, traditionally rooted in industries like forestry, mining, and hydroelectric energy, has become a hotbed for startups looking to bring more sustainable practices to the resources economy. 

Vancouver is home to ecosystem organizations like the Foresight Cleantech Accelerator, in addition to a sizeable ecosystem of cleantech startups, such as Carbon Engineering (acquired for $1.1 billion), General Fusion, Svante, and MineSense Technologies.

Calgary also made the top 50 cleantech list, tying with Seattle, Madrid, San Diego, and Austin between 31st and 35th place. Calgary and Edmonton both cracked Startup Genome’s top five cleantech ecosystems to watch list, which is notable given the cities’ historical roots in the oil and gas economy.

Overall, Canada’s cleantech sector has seen an impressive year for investment, which is one of Startup Genome’s criteria for ranking ecosystems. According to a recent report from the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, in the first nine months of 2023, cleantech companies raised $800 million across 55 deals. Deal volume has already matched its 2021 record and is on track to surpass the record deal value of $1.1 billion tracked in 2022.

Image courtesy Alejandro Luengo via Unsplash.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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