The Tech Sector We Built Together

The Tech Sector We Built Together

The technology sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has been punching well above its weight for many years now.  The sector requires massive collaboration efforts to have companies like Verafin, Mysa, Genoa Design, Kraken Robotics and Celtx make international headlines and hire teams with hundreds of employees. The myth of the lonely entrepreneur building their business in isolation without any supports is always untrue. It truly takes a village to build successful companies, and Genesis believes Newfoundland & Labrador is the perfect place to do it. 

2019 was a very big year for the sector which contributes more than $1.6B to the provincial economy every year. What happened last year will likely set the technology sector up for continued and expanded success in the years to come. 

According to Entrevestor, the number of startups in NL increased by more than 25% in 2019. And who can forget the record-breaking investment that Verafin secured in September of that same year? At $515M, it was the largest venture capital deal in Canadian history. Genesis also launched a $775,000 micro fund in 2019. Since the fund’s establishment, Genesis has supported 18 new startups with $20,000 each. These 18 early-stage companies have secured $4.5M in private investment, generated $5.1M in revenues and created 84 new jobs. Additionally, Genesis and five Atlantic partners – Innovacorp, Creative Destruction Lab Atlantic, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, PEI BioAlliance and Springboard Atlantic – were awarded a $6.8M ocean supercluster project to create 30 new high-growth ocean technology enterprises in Atlantic Canada.

It goes without saying that every company starts with a handful of employees, a few computers and thousands of hours of never-ending work. In fact, most companies spend their early years not collecting any revenues, investing significant time and money into their companies and developing a strategy for market penetration. It requires courage, determination and perseverance to start a tech company. Many juggle families, education, work travel and all of life’s many obstacles while still focusing on their dream of building a company. Much like our ancestors who broke ground in the fishery, mineral or forestry industries, Newfoundland & Labrador’s modern-day tech entrepreneurs make outsized sacrifices to contribute to our economy. 

The result? A strong, thriving technology sector which contributes significantly to the province’s GDP, products and services focused on tackling some of the world’s biggest problems and well-paying, fulfilling jobs. All of this activity means the difference between our workforce leaving or getting to call Newfoundland and Labrador home.

The sector has seen an explosion of activity in recent years leading to a rapidly expanding community of technology companies. This is largely due to the increased focus on collaboration at all levels. The establishment of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, ConnectionNL, Bounce Labs, Eastern Health’s Living Labs, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and the growth and expansion of established programs like Genesis, TechNL, Pelorus Ventures, and NEIA. The provincial and federal governments have shown a commitment to growing the sector and supporting activity at all levels of company development. 

Newfoundland & Labrador is no stranger to making big investments to ensure jobs can remain here for generations, and technology should be given the same consideration. The most compelling case for technology startups is that this industry is only getting started. With a universe of incredible applications and footholds in every industry on this planet, technology is not just a few lines of code on a computer. Technology holds the key to creating companies ranging from cancer therapies to virtual simulations in entertainment to military & defense. We need more Verafins to bring in historic, record-setting investment deals. We need more Mysas to help fight climate change with their energy-saving smart thermostats. We need more Genoas to design safer, more resilient ships so offshore workers can return home to their families. We need the technology sector in our province more than ever before. Imagine all the innovations Newfoundlanders & Labradorians have yet to develop, right here. When we invest in our technology startups, we invest in our future. •

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