Scaleup Research

Over the last ten years, Canada has created a burgeoning startup community in the tech sector. However we are still challenged to turn those startups into world class companies. Unlike Silicon Valley, we don’t have the expertise at doing this and it will be difficult to develop scaleup skills organically. What we need is a different approach. One like that used by the Oakland As and the British Cycling team. What we need is research into the root causes of our challenges and data about how we can improve. The research presented here is an attempt to begin a conversation in Canada about our challenges and an attempt to advocate for evidence-based management.

Much of the research presented in this website was conducted by Charles Plant in his role as Senior Fellow of the Impact Centre, an institute at the University of Toronto that focusses on commercialization of advances in the physical technologies.

 

Market Development

Canadian companies typically launch their products before becoming active in marketing and sales. They also spend less than Americans. As a result, our companies grow more slowly and never make it to world class, being sold before that because they have great technology. This research delves into various practices in market development.

Capital

One frequently hears complaints about the lack of capital available for technology companies in Canada. While we finance more startups per capital than every country in the world, we are challenged at providing these companies with late stage capital. What this research is showing is that our companies wait later before looking for capital, get financed less often and obtain less capital than our US peers. As a result our companies grow slower and are less appealing from an investment perspective than high growth US firms.

Leadership

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Canada is challenged to bring the rightskill sets to bear when trying to turn high growth technology companies onto world leaders. Our best leaders don’t have the experience at doing this and it is difficult in Canada to hire the right skills locally. Importing key employees from elsewhere is problematic. This research looks at various leadership practices to determine why this is the case and what we could be doing differently.

Policy

The current narrative about innovation in Canada misses the mark. Our problem isn’t the amount we spend on research and development. Nor is it the number of patents we take out or how much our productivity lags that of the US. Our problem is that we are not creating enough world class companies. We aren’t doing an effective job transitioning companies from startup to scaleup. The research in this section looks at macro issues about our behaviour as a nation in an attempt to influence public policy.