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Vancouver slides 9 spots in global tech startup ecosystem ranking: report

Vancouver's startup ecosystem takes 24th place in the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking by tech research company Startup Genome.
Vancouver's startup ecosystem takes 24th place in the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking by tech research company Startup Genome. John Hua/Global News

Vancouver is still one of the top 25 tech startup ecosystems in the world, but just barely.

That’s according to the new 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking by tech research company Startup Genome.

That ranking puts Vancouver in 24th place, down nine places from Startup Genome’s last report in 2017.

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Among the key areas in which the city’s startup ecosystem is facing challenges is access to funding, according to the report.

Startup Genome
Startup Genome. Startup Genome

“Among top global ecosystems, the places most hindered in the rankings by a gap in early-stage funding are Vancouver, Sydney and Hong Kong,” stated the report.

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Another key area where Vancouver is lagging is in the development of life sciences, according to the report.

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While the city scored high marks on access to talent across a variety of categories, it scored just two out of 10 when it came to STEM students graduating from life sciences universities and degree programs in the region.

Vancouver’s weak life sciences scores helped other emerging ecosystems muscle their way onto the list.

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“Four ecosystems making a debut among the top (Denver-Boulder, Lausanne-Bern-Geneva, San Diego, Washington, D.C.) have risen past (Vancouver and Sydney). Of these, three have a top 20 life sciences ecosystem, which neither Vancouver nor Sydney has,” states the report.

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“Compared to other top ecosystems, their levels of funding are (also) static… even if we had excluded life sciences from this analysis, Vancouver and Sydney would still have fallen.”

However, while the report flagged areas where the city’s startups face challenges, it also found the ecosystem continues to grow and that Vancouver remains one of 13 major global startup hubs.

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It found Vancouver continues to punch above its weight in market reach, earning scores meeting and even exceeding Silicon Valley on the commercialization of intellectual property and access to global markets.

The city also ranked well on team experience.

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“Vancouver stands out for having current startup founders with a lot of past scale-up experience and adoption of best practices for startup success (like having advisers with equity). In this factor, Vancouver’s performance is on par with Silicon Valley,” states the report.

The report found Vancouver’s key advantages lie in the cleantech and blockchain sectors, where it ranks in the top 20 and top 10, respectively.

Vancouver is home to a quarter of Canada’s cleantech companies, with six local companies among the 2019 Global Cleantech 100, it said.

On blockchain, the report noted that Vancouver-based Vanbex Group completed the country’s largest initial coin offering, raising $33 million with $65 million in market capitalizaiton, while Dapper Labs raised $15 million in Series A funding last year.

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The report highlighted research and development credits of up to 45 per cent for deep tech research and the new $100-million B.C. Tech Fund aimed at offering Series A financing to companies as an attractive reason to locate in the city.

Toronto-Waterloo, the only other Canadian ecosystem on the ranking, climbed three spots compared to 2017 from 16th to 13th place.