Never Mind the Valley: Here’s Vancouver

When you talk about vibrant West Coast startup scenes, obviously Silicon Valley dominates the conversation. Then there’s Seattle, of course. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Portland too. But just north of the border, the entrepreneurs in Vancouver, British Columbia insist that their city should be viewed alongside these other prominent West Coast hot-spots.

Home to the recent Olympic Winter Games, the coastal city is Canada’s eighth largest, often ranking as one of the most livable cities in the world. Known for its proximity to both the mountains and the ocean, it’s a great spot for the outdoorsy, the adventurous, and yes, the entrepreneurial.

In fact, the city’s mayor recently touted Vancouver as having the highest number of entrepreneurs per capita in North America.

The Vancouver Startup Ecosystem

Vancouver has a number of local events and programs that connect and support members of the community, including Vancouver GreenTech Exchange, Vancouver Startup Weekend, Mobile Mondays, and BCIC-New Ventures Competition.

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There’s also a healthy network of VC firms, including Ventures West, Banyan Capital Partners, GrowthWorks, Yaletown Venture Partners, and Chrysalis Ventures, as well as a strong angel investment community in the city – all providing the necessary capital and mentorship to startups in their developing stages.

The Provincial Government also offers tax credits and cash-back incentives to investors, as well as investment and support from the regional colleges and universities.

Greater Vancouver accounts for more than 60% of the province’s 600+ digital media companies, and it’s also one of the leading centers for video game production. As such, the city is a blend of both major media and gaming companies, as well as local, indie businesses – Sierra Wireless, Pixar, THQ, and Vivendi/Activision, to name just a few.

The local Internet startup seen is anchored by accelerators like Wavefront and the Bootup Entrepreneurial Society, and companies like Hootsuite, Plenty of Fish, Geotoko, and Compass Engine call Vancouver home.

“For tech startups, Vancouver rocks,” says Daryl Hatton, the CEO of ConnectionPoint Systems. “We have a vibrant and creative tech talent pool, tremendous support from the provincial government in helping acquire angel/friends/family financing, and a quality of life that keeps people here. Our proximity and shared time zone with Silicon Valley makes it easier to partner with industry leaders.”

On one hand, the proximity to other tech hubs like Seattle and Silicon Valley may make it easy to overlook Vancouver. But with a strong talent pool, a great education infrastructure, and a good economy, Vancouver certainly holds its own.

Photo credits: reach the city

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