Investing in the Future: Technology in Newfoundland and Labrador

November 9, 2020

The technology sector in Newfoundland and Labrador is, without a doubt, a unique one. As the province begins to be more critical about its oil & gas investments, it seeks to build upon growing sectors that can become economic pillars province wide. As a new decade looms for the island, it sets its compass towards technology to expand business in the province to new heights.

For many years now, the idea of the growing tech sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has been a magnet for small businesses looking for a fresh market to work in, and it doesn’t seem like it is slowing down in any capacity.

MHA Bernard Davis speaks about the importance of the tech sector to our province. (Photo credit to @techNL on Twitter)

Success Stories March Towards More Success

Just last year, Newfoundland based cyber security company Verafin lodged the largest venture capital funding in Canadian history – an investment of more than $500 million to expand Verafin’s ever-growing revenue stream that saw substantial growth in 2019. On their coattails, another St. John’s based company, Mysa Smart Thermostats, recently announced a $6.2 million investment from multiple sources. (P.S. click here to check out our blog post on Mysa!)

The surge of interest in technology business in Newfoundland didn’t appear out of thin air. With much help from Memorial University based start up incubator, the Genesis Centre, and the swathing provincial Way Forward strategic plan, the development of the technology sector has been at the forefront of both corporate and entrepreneurial interest. 

Generating around $1.6 billion in revenue annually with employment numbers beyond 4000, current efforts in further developing the technology sector on the island seem to be effective thus far. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, 67% of tech companies in Newfoundland alone have been experiencing a surge in new opportunities as traditional economic sectors take drastic hits.

In The Beginning: The Genesis Centre’s Impact

The Memorial University based startup incubator, the Genesis Centre, is the sole startup accelerator in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and has lent their expertise to some of the giants that are spearheading technology today. Both Verafin and Mysa Smart Thermostats are graduates of the Genesis Centre’s Enterprise program, which provides startup companies with office space and resources in their early stages. 

Although a fraction of the size of titanic incubators such as Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator in (responsible for companies such as Airbnb and Shopify), the Genesis Centre has received international recognition as a top challenger among University Business Incubators in North America. 

At the World Incubation Summit last year in Doha, Qatar, UBI Global described the Genesis Centre as a program that, “stands out due to their impressive overall impact and performance achievements.”

From left to right  are Genesis executives Michelle Simms, CEO; Colin Corcocan, director of finance and administration; and Angelo Casanas, director of programs and partnerships. (Photo credit to The Gazette – Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Industry Support

TechNL (formerly NATI), the not for profit organization that represents Newfoundland and Labrador’s technology sector, just announced on September 28th, 2020, a generous grant program for small businesses, providing funds for assistance in building an effective online profile. 

TechNL is working closely with both the Federal and Provincial governments to accomplish programs like this, with a combined effort from all parties culminating in the ongoing Way Forward strategic plan that focuses heavily on the growth of the tech sector. Other not for profit associations are joining the charge as well, with supporters such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association and the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association lending their resources to the Way Forward initiative.

The Way Forward

As we head into 2021, the technology sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has become a stalwart economic pillar that even the deadliest of circumstances struggle to topple. For entrepreneurs nationwide, Newfoundland and Labrador is known as a haven for innovators and tech geeks to grow and flourish in a blooming industry.

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