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Canada: The Powerhouse Of Tech Innovation

At Collision Conference 2022 in Toronto, we attended a discussion about the evolution of making Canada a technology powerhouse. In recent years where many places were hurt by the pandemic, the City of Toronto has done an excellent job of promoting Toronto’s entrepreneurial and social sectors on the global stage.

Toronto is ranked as North America’s fastest-growing tech market. There were a couple of key points I took away from the session about this exciting growth phase for Toronto.

Speakers:

Marlon Thompson
Founder & CEO
Future Capital


Martin Basiri
Co-founder & CEO
ApplyBoard


Michelle Scarborough
Managing Director of Women in Technology Venture Fund
BDC
Alicja Siekierska
Senior Reporter
Yahoo Finance


All the panelists had one major thing in common: attracting top talent. 

Michelle points out two key sectors of influence: education and immigration. With education, it’s about pairing students with entrepreneurs, and with immigration, it’s about reciprocity: attracting top and diverse talent, and giving them opportunities for ‘upgrading’ and upskilling. 

Martin echoes the importance of attracting talent via immigration, as well as emphasizing how founders need to attract Gen Z talent to stay competitive with Google and other tech giants. 

Marlon stresses how financial support from the Canadian government and venture capitalists is key in ensuring that Canada can be a tech powerhouse.

But there’s still room for improvement

Panelists emphasize that improving funding diversity should still be a major focus. Michelle discusses the importance of improving diversity by attracting investments from diverse boards, venture capitalists, and founder profiles can lead to 50% more opportunities. 

Marlon adds to this by focusing on building educated underrepresented entrepreneurial leaders to improve on inclusion KPIs.

Here’s what’s next, and the challenges Canada needs to overcome to get there

In discussing economic downturn concerns, Martin noted that there will be an economic course-correction, possibly leading to psychological effects on founders – scaring them away from the tech industry and venture capitalists.

But Martin sees an opportunity in the coming years of the economic downturn. His analogy: As the tree grows you need to trim it to make it stronger. Some important points he made: Canadian tech innovation startup growth is huge, and because of this, venture capitalists are aggressively picking where to invest. Thus, the strongest will survive.

Parting words: Any advice to starting founders?

Martin had a lot to say about starting in a time of uncertainty. Here are his key takeaways:  

“Double down on your customer obsession. Solve the biggest problem in the best way possible. Stay focused and eliminate the noise and the fog.”