19 Nov 2020 BC Tech and KPMG unveil 2020 BC Tech Report Card
Persistent B grade compared to other provinces reveals need to close scale-up gap
VANCOUVER, BC – For the fourth consecutive year, the British Columbia Technology Report Card (BC Tech Report Card) has given top marks to the province’s tech sector when comparing its performance to other industrial sectors in BC. When compared to tech sectors in other provinces, the grade remained unchanged at a B.
Blending sector data and insights gathered by KPMG in Canada and the BC Tech Association (BC Tech), the BC Tech Report Card reviews the sector’s performance in relation to other provincial industries, Canadian counterparts, and international jurisdictions. It also examines progress since the 2018 Report Card, and highlights themes for collective action going forward.
“While the provincial tech ecosystem continues to thrive overall, the persistent B grade serves as both a reality check and a call to action,” said BC Tech President and CEO Jill Tipping. “Because our companies have long tended to stay small or sell too early, they haven’t grown into the large companies that anchor a tech ecosystem. This has created a scaleup gap that is preventing the sector from achieving its full potential.”
The 2020 report reveals that the sector is underperforming in terms of the number of medium-sized to large firms. While British Columbia has a growing number of mid-sized companies, it continues to trail more mature tech sectors in Ontario and Quebec. The number of small and medium-sized enterprises comprising the vast majority of the ecosystem, and the overall distribution of enterprises of all sizes, has remained relatively consistent over the last two years. In fact, there are only 22 companies in BC’s tech sector that employ at least 500 people (of the nearly 11,000 total companies in the sector). Put another way, the threshold to be among the largest 10 percent of tech companies in BC is an employee count of 50. The comparable threshold for Canada is 100, with Germany at 150, Israel at 200, and California at 500.
These findings “arrive at a critical moment-in-time for the province’s tech sector,” said George Kondopulos, Partner and Industry Leader for KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice for the Greater Vancouver Area. “On the one hand, COVID-19 has fast-tracked digital transformations within every industry, creating gainful opportunities for BC tech firms who can support or spearhead those initiatives. On another, pandemic restrictions have created competitive hurdles and barriers that have held some sectors back from realizing their full, international potential. The community has retained its uniquely creative and collaborative environment that attracts the innovators, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers needed to push the industry ahead, but stronger domestic investments and growth supports are required to close the gaps between it and its competitors in the U.S. and around the world.”
The 2020 Tech Report Card calls for more sustained multi-year public investment in the kind of programs that help companies grow from small to medium-sized, and from medium-sized to large. These accelerator programs provide access to leadership training, new markets, subject matter experts, and mentors and advisors that are beyond the resources of startups.
“We know that scaleup companies are more likely to create jobs, attract investment capital, invest in R&D, remain in the community, and create economic prosperity,” Tipping said. “We know the potential of BC’s tech sector is even greater than the success we see today. And we know that with the economic challenges ahead, a thriving sector will be essential to pull us out of this pandemic and build a resilient future economy.”
While the BC tech sector has much to celebrate, “there are speed bumps along its path,” Kondopulos said. “Talent sourcing and retention remain critical priorities, as does providing small to medium-sized companies with the domestic capital, R&D resources, and go-to-market support to reach their full potential. The BC tech sector has done much to lead its provincial peers and close the gaps between national competitors, and now is no time to take its foot off the pedal.”
About the BC Tech Association
BC Tech’s mission is to make the province the best place to grow and scale tech companies. It helps firms grow and scale into anchors — the large companies that drive the sector and the economy — by hosting programs and advocating for policies that help the tech community collaborate, learn and thrive. To learn more visit wearebctech.com.
About KPMG LLP
KPMG LLP, an Audit, Tax and Advisory firm, is a limited liability partnership, established under the laws of Ontario, and the Canadian member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG has over 7,000 professionals/employees in 38 locations across Canada serving private and public sector clients. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International, a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity, and describes itself as such. To learn more visit kpmg.ca
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