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The list includes 21 Canadian accelerators, incubators, and entrepreneurial programs, ranking them based on data collected through Crunchbase in the summer of 2021.
The Narwhal Project creator, Charles Plant, argues the data shows growth in the Canadian tech ecosystem over the past decade, as well as room for improvement, especially when compared to United States counterparts.
“I think it’s important for us to benchmark against the best in the world to see how are we doing.”
Topping the list is Creative Destruction Labs (CDL), featuring the largest number of participants (751), as well as the highest number to have successfully raised capital. Circling out the top five are Startup Edmonton, TandemLaunch, MEDTEQ+, and Ecofuel.
The Narwhal Project’s rankings, while not a complete list of Canadian accelerator-style programs, interestingly show smaller Canadian programs beating out the likes of Next Canada, DMZ, and Techstars Toronto when it comes to portfolio company performance.
Plant also ranked the largest American programs, with results showing Canadian programs still have a ways to go when it comes to reaching the size, scale, and success of their counterparts south of the border.
The Canadian tech landscape is ripe with accelerator, incubator, and entrepreneurial programs looking to support and foster the growing market. But that has not always been the case. According to Plant, 10 years ago hardly any accelerators existed in Canada, but since then, the numbers have burgeoned.
As the country’s tech scene matures, large international accelerators have opened Canadian programs alongside local counterparts. One such example is Techstars Toronto, which was pegged this year by the larger Techstars group to expand its capacity – one of only two cities globally to be chosen due to its strong performance over the last four years.
While there are many programs to choose from, there are also essentially no data-based rankings that show how these programs perform. This data gap is part of what led Plant and the Narwhal Project team to create the rankings.
“It’s a very opaque system,” he told BetaKit. “I think it’s important to be able to judge how companies and institutions in the community are doing. I think it’s important for us to benchmark against the best in the world to see how are we doing against the best, particularly because we can identify practices that will enable us to improve.”
Another impetus for the research and rankings was Plant’s own work with companies. The Narwhal Project quietly launched its own accelerator this year after Plant was continuously approached by companies who took his workshops on how to become a unicorn company.
The list ranks accelerators according to graduation rate (which Narwhal classifies as companies that raised more than $250,000 in pre-seed or seed funding afterwards); median financial velocity (the speed of raising money); and percentage high velocity (the number of superstars, or companies that have raised more than $10 million a year since inception). To be included in the ranking, an accelerator had to have made 15 or more investments and have 10 or more companies that had received a total investment of greater than $250,000.
The list gives each company a score based on the above criteria. With 10 global locations, CDL is the highest on the list with a score of 13.72. NextAI rounded out the top 21 with a score of 3.70.
Comparatively, StartX tops the American list with a score of 44.42, while Techstars Boulder took the final spot with a score of 11.56.