Key highlights from the report reveal that since 2012, global average Series A rounds have tripled to more than US$18 million.
Additionally, since the pandemic, tech companies grew 2.3 times more than non-tech counterparts.
A record 540 companies achieved unicorn status (a unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over US$1 billion) in 2021, up from 150 in 2020. In fact, nineteen ecosystems including Brisbane, Luxembourg, Santiago-Valparaiso, and Ho Chi Minh City achieved their first unicorns in 2021.
In terms of global rankings, North America continues to dominate, with 47 per cent of the top 30 ecosystems. In North America, exits over US$50 million made up a total of US$698 billion last year.
Within Canadian cities, Montréal’s startups attracted $1.6 billion in funding in 2021, a new record for the city. Sub-sector strengths in the city include life sciences, Fintech, and artificial intelligence, big data and analytics. In fact, according to the GSER report, over 600 researchers and 14,000 university students in AI-related programs call Montréal home.
The Toronto – Waterloo region is also making moves to become a popular tech hub, the report revealed. With more than 300,000 tech workers, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor is home to North America’s third-largest and fastest-growing innovation ecosystem.
Another Canadian city that the report highlighted was Calgary. Almost 90 per cent of venture capital investment in Alberta came from 66 Calgary companies, totalling $500 million in deals. Calgary is attracting major investments from global companies such as Amazon, Infosys, and Mphasis. Calgary’s sub-sector strengths include Fintech and Cleantech.
Calgary is home to over 70 per cent of Alberta’s Cleantech firms, and local companies are getting noticed. For example, Validere, a Blackrock-backed Calgary-based company, raised $43 million in Series B funding in March 2022.
Nearly half of the venture capital deployed in Canada last year, a record C$7.7 billion, went to companies based in Toronto and Waterloo. Like Montréal, Toronto and Waterloo are known for their developments in Life Sciences; the foundation of this success comes from the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo.
The report also revealed major movement of cities in the United States in the Global rankings. Detroit moved up 13 places to hit the number 40 spot and Los Angeles held its place at number six.
Additionally San Diego moved up eight places from last year’s ranking, to number 13, and Denver-Boulder moved up three places from 2021, taking the 24th spot. The Colorado ecosystem is increasing in both value and count in early-stage funding.
“This research reveals what it takes for cities to compete in the race to the top as destinations for startup talent and investment,” said Jonathan Ortmans, founder and president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “The GSER is both a guide to innovation performance and a cue to leaders to grow their local innovation ecosystems with evidence-based strategies, not gut.”