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Startup Community Blooms In Atlantic Canada

A comprehensive report on Atlantic Canada’s startup scene, published by business intelligence provider Entrevestor, offers insights into Nova Scotia’s current cohort of new companies.

Entrevestor’s Startup East report, released earlier this quarter, showed the region’s total number of startups increased by 90 to a total of 355 new companies. That’s a jump of 24 per cent compared with 2014’s total.

Of that total, 188 companies were based in Nova Scotia, 94 in New Brunswick, 37 Newfoundland and 36 in P.E.I.

The report defines a startup as a locally-owned company developing a proprietary technology-based product for a global market. According to the report, a startup can’t be a service company, must have at least one founder living in Atlantic Canada and must be diligently progressing.

With 128 in total, Halifax is home to more than one-third of the 355 startups. In addition, the city accounted for approximately one-third of the 90 startups that launched in 2015.

However, the 18 new IT companies that sprouted up in Halifax last year amounted to only 54 per cent of the city’s new companies, confirming commentators’ claims of a deceleration in the formation of Halifax tech startups.

On the other hand there were 10 new life science companies formed in Halifax during 2015, companies like Covina BioMedical, founded by Dalhousie University researchers Caitlin Pierlot and Brett Dickey. (See profile, this section.)

Meanwhile, the report showed the buzzing startup community in Cape Breton continued to launch new companies without losing many to attrition. Even though a high proportion of its companies are pre-revenue and have not received equity investments, relatively few teams have left the arena. Some 10 new companies formed in Cape Breton during 2015, all in IT.

Entrevestor founder Peter Moreira, who also has a column in the Chronicle Herald, says Cape Breton is on the rise.

“In terms of company formation in Nova Scotia, what was especially noticeable last year was the growth of new companies in the Sydney area. The tech community in Cape Breton is energetic and enthusiastic. In 2016 we’re starting to see them attract investment and generate revenue.”