Just as the country realized its Olympic dreams by identifying and supporting those athletes who had demonstrated the ability to win medals, Waterloo-based entrepreneurial accelerator Communitech announced its own business-based version of this aspiration — a Team Truth North, made up of Canadian innovation firms with the greatest potential to achieve $1 billion in revenue by 2030.
This roster features 35 companies (see Table below) in five provinces, as well as the United States, which represent the leading 1 per cent of high-performing global private companies in Canada. Altogether, these firms had a combined 2021 revenue of $5 billion. Fully one quarter of them were founded by immigrants to Canada, and 40 per cent of the firms have women working in C-suite positions. These enterprises cover a range of technology sectors, including cybersecurity, health, energy, communication, and material science, and in at least 10 cases, they have some aspect of artificial intelligence at the core of their operations.
Team True North made its first public appearance today, as part of an Investor Day event at the TMX in Toronto, where representatives of several of these firms were on hand to speak. The occasion was celebrated by Communitech CEO and President Chris Albinson, who pointed to some of the distinct advantages Canada now possesses as a place where business leaders can build trust in cutting edge technologies. He had introduced this high tech ecosystem several weeks earlier as part of Research Money’s annual conference, in a session entitled “Getting to a Billion — Canada’s opportunity to grow multinational companies”.
“Canada is now the second-largest innovation hub on the planet, and the fastest growing,” he said. “The Canadian community has come together and said innovation and a knowledge economy is really critical. So how did that happen? We’ve always had a great quality of life, great technologies, great founders like Open Text, that were in the last wave 20 years ago. The other thing that is our superpower is our ability to attract and retain talent from all over the globe. So we have unequalled access to talent, we have complete access to global capital, and we have pretty much the best access to global markets. And you ask yourself, where else on the planet does that exist?”
As part of that conference session, Olympic speed skating medallist Cathy Priester described her work as a board member of the Own the Podium initiative in 2010, which used key performance indicators and other business methodologies to identify those athletes in a variety of sports with the potential to win medals. In a similar way, Communitech assembled Team True North using data gathered by the major high-tech commercial lender Silicon Valley Bank and analysis conducted by the New York data science firm Two Sigma. This work yielded four specific criteria that combine a firm’s current annual revenue with its current growth rate to predict its likelihood of reaching $1 billion in revenue.
These calculations revealed the firms of Team True North, which in 2021 had an average annual revenue of $141 million and average year-over-year growth of 149 per cent. Among them is the Waterloo-based cybersecurity firm eSentire, whose President and COO J. Paul Haynes was part of the Research Money panel explaining how the Own the Podium concept could be applied in this way. He also emphasized the need to attract Canadian-based investors, just as his company has done, who will prefer to keep these successful ventures in this country.
Albinson noted that Communitech will be updating and expanding the Team True North roster regularly, with a similar announcement planned for later this year. In the meantime, he urged everyone to appreciate the current announcement as an important signal of the extent to which Canada’s tech companies are thriving and contributing to the health of the country’s economy.
“That’s what’s going to sustain our quality of life and allow Canada to compete,” he concluded. “And it’s pretty fun to sit in the stands and cheer them on.”
Research Money intends to do just that, by speaking directly with the people behind these promising companies about how they got to where they are, and where they intend to go next. Watch for these conversations in the weeks to come.
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