Sep 13, 2021

Top 6 Canadian Cities for Entrepreneurs & Startups

Year after year, Canada is proving itself to be a startup and innovation powerhouse.

With only a fraction of the population, Canadian cities’ tech talent pools are surpassing the likes of Silicon Valley, New York, and Seattle; it goes without saying that Canada is positioning itself to become a global competitor.

Depending on the needs of each business, Canada is a great place to be when it comes to starting a company - just ask the growing roster of successful Canadian-born companies such as Slack, ApplyBoard, Shopify, and Hootsuite!

Before you grab your passport, keep reading to learn more about 6 of the top Canadian cities to launch your startup. Each of these cities provide a unique and exciting atmosphere for the various kinds of entrepreneurs and startups.

6) Calgary, Alberta

Calgary is Canada’s fourth largest city by population and the Economist has named it the world’s fifth most livable city for the last seven years - earning top marks for stability, healthcare, and education.

Well-known for its energy sector and other incubators such as Startup Calgary and Innovate Calgary, the city has its roots in being a pioneer with a strong entrepreneurial culture.

5) Edmonton, Alberta

Located just a few hours north of Calgary is Edmonton, Alberta. Known for being a Canadian leader in multiple industries such as biotechnology, oil and gas, and digital media, this city is a melting pot for highly skilled workers from a variety of backgrounds.

With incubators such as Startup Edmonton and TEC Edmonton, entrepreneurs can be sure that they’ll be able to receive the assistance and support they need.

4) Waterloo, Ontario

Moving east to the province of Ontario is #4, Waterloo. With one of the highest startup densities in any area due to its very small population and very high number of startups, Waterloo offers the 25th best startup ecosystem in the entire world.

Contributing to the well-educated population and world-renowned universities and research centres is the University of Waterloo which encourages innovation and greatly contributes to the high entrepreneurial numbers.

3) Montréal, Québec

Rated as one of the top 20 startup ecosystems in the world by Startup Compass is Montréal, Québec. In 2017, Canadian companies raised a total of $4.4 billion CAD, and Montréal raised more funds than any other city.

Due to its growth as a hub for artificial intelligence (AI), Montréal has gained a lot of traction and global recognition through successful companies such as Element AI, which raised the largest amount ever raised for an AI company: $102 million USD in Series A funding.

2) Vancouver, British Columbia

Coming in at #2 is Vancouver, British Columbia. This beautiful west coast city has been globally ranked as the 15th best city to start a tech company due to having “the highest concentration of visual effects and animation studios, two of the top six video game franchises, and its ranking as one of the world’s top 20 Global Financial Centres”.

Many incredibly successful companies call Vancouver home, such as:

  1. Slack - the fastest growing business software of all time
  2. - the third largest video streaming service in the world after Facebook and Google
  3. Hootsuite - a global leader in social media management with more than 18 million customers and relied on by over 80% of the Fortune 1000 companies for social media management

According to the Startup City Index, Vancouver has been named the best place in the world to start a business, receiving top marks for quality of life, access to office space, and ease of getting a company off the ground. Location, temperature, lifestyle, and being in close proximity to major American business hubs all contribute to the entrepreneurial attractiveness of Vancouver.

1) Toronto, Ontario

The final city on this list is perhaps the most famous and well-known of them all, Toronto, Ontario. With an extremely diverse population contributing to overall success within the entrepreneurial world, a wide variety of entrepreneurs tend to thrive in Toronto - especially minorities.

When looking at individual metrics, Toronto tends to rank very high. In the last 5 years, Toronto’s tech talent pool has grown by 43%, placing it at #1 amongst the top tech markets in the world. When it comes to how many days it took to set up a limited liability company (LLC), Toronto ranked #3.

Compared to American counterparts such as Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston, the cost of research and development in Toronto is significantly lower. Paired with the fact that the Canadian government offers tax-refunds on research and development investments, refunds can be as high as 65% of the original cost, making it clear that Canada deeply values research, innovation, and development.

Home to places such as the Toronto Business Development Centre and MaRS, the world’s largest innovation hub focusing on healthcare, fintech, enterprise, and cleantech, it is undeniable that Toronto is dedicated to the support and development of startup companies and has earned its’ ranking as the top Canadian city for entrepreneurs and startup companies.