As more and more accelerators pop up in Canada, critics are suggesting a bubble may be forming.
True or not, the largest and oldest accelerators in Canada are consistently fostering innovative startups who after graduation are creating new jobs and raising venture capital. If there is a bubble, and if it does eventually burst, there are at least a handful of accelerators in Canada who will be immune to damage.
The safest bets? Any accelerator who is a part of BDC Venture Capital's convertible notes program. Why? Because it's a rock-solid validation point for an accelerator: not only does the program itself add substantial value to the accelerator, but that accelerator has passed all of BDC VC's tests—and the firm is extremely selective about the organizations it partners with.
"We have a number of very specific and rigorous criteria that we look at in assessing whether or not to work with an accelerator, as we are either an investor or strategic funding partner," explains Michael Mahon, director of strategic investments at BDC VC, including the structure of the organization, its private-sector backing, and its capacity for follow-on investment.
Recently, BDC Venture Capital even announced it was on the lookout for Canada’s most innovative startup. In partnership with Canada’s Venture Capital Association, BDC is aiming to recognize the “significant efforts of startups, while also encouraging them to keep thinking outside the box.” Who knows? Perhaps the country’s most innovative startup will come from British Columbia. We sure hope so! Applications for the award close on April 4, 2014.
So naturally, the accelerators involved in the firm's notes program—FounderFuel, Communitech Hyperdrive, Extreme Startups, GrowLab, Launch36, and Execution Labs—are home to some of the richest innovation in Canada's startup scene (which is makes it no surprise that BDC VC is seeking Canada’s most innovative startup via a new Innovation Award, for which applications are currently open).
For example, GrowLab in Vancouver is making waves through a clever partnership with one of the region's more creative schools, Emily Carr University. Through their collaboration, design students formed a design research team at the Gastown headquarters of GrowLab with the focus of developing a new methodology for connecting design to early stage startup companies. Practical value-adds such as this one help separate top-notch accelerators from the masses that now crowd our nation.
"GrowLab’s reputation for bringing together the best and brightest entrepreneurs and connecting them with its own global network of top tier investors, mentors and partners is unparalleled," affirms a rep from from Emily Carr. The students assigned to work with GrowLab startups "contributed vision and expertise that had immediate impact on product development" and all received job offers from the accelerator companies, who include Restly, Karmahire, and Spacelist. This small-scale innovation plants the seeds for massive disruption down the road; quality Canadian accelerators are a boon to our startup ecosystem, bubbles be damned.