Startups Continue to Innovate at Canada's Biggest Accelerators

Posted by Knowlton Thomas

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.

 

SEE ALSO: Why the Acclerator Model is "a Little Broken" in Canada

 

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.

Company:
BDC Capital
Website:
http://www.bdccapital.ca
Location:
Montréal, Québec, Canada

A subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), BDC Capital offers a full spectrum of specialized financing and investment solutions to help Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their full growth potential. With more than $1 billion under management, BDC Capital takes a strategic, patient approach to nurture companies’ development over the long term. From venture capital to equity to growth and transition... more

Company:
SpaceList
Website:
http://www.spacelist.ca
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

We started SpaceList to make it easy for people to find the perfect office, retail or warehouse space. We're doing it by bringing all of Canada's commercial real estate listings together in one place. No other website lets you cover so much of the market so quickly. We are working closely with the biggest firms in the business to make commercial real estate more accessible and improve the efficiency of the... more

Company:
KarmaHire
Website:
http://karmahire.com
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

KarmaHire is a cloud recruitment suite for the world’s fastest growing companies to source, screen and hire better talent. more

Company:
Retsly
Website:
http://Rets.ly
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Retsly is a backend as a service for the real estate industry that normalizes data from MLS providers and implements a cohesive and consistent real time API for integrating MLS data into real estate software while addressing industry compliance concerns. more


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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and exploring weird side streets. more



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