New study shows big economic boost from UW’s startup community
KITCHENER – Blackberry, Open Text and Kik all got their start in Waterloo Region. Their success inspired other growing companies including Miovision, Aeryon Labs, ClearPath Robotics, and Thalmic Labs.
While Waterloo Region has long been considered a great place to start a business, how is the next generation of startup companies contributing to the local economy?
The University of Waterloo wanted an answer to that question so they asked Deloitte Canada to take a look at the bigger picture.
The auditing firm found that startup companies who use the university’s entrepreneurship programs generated more than $2 billion in revenue and created approximately 7,500 jobs over the last decade.
“Getting a job for us is important but it is not the ultimate goal,” Feridun Hamdullahpur, the president and vice-chancellor at UW.“How many jobs can we create? How many companies can we establish here in our region, in Canada? That’s a bigger goal.”
The study also showed that companies that hired the university’s co-op students saw an additional $525 million in returns in 2018.
“What this report demonstrates is that our focus on experiential education and entrepreneurship are not only good for students; they’re good for the local and national economy,” says Hamdullahpur.
The school points to another study, this one done through the University of Toronto in February 2019, which looked at the education of 585 founders from 335 Canadian tech companies. It found that 18.6% of tech founders got an undergraduate education from UW.
“This alone is a tremendously important statement for the university.”
Deloitte says they studied the contributions of the university’s entrepreneurship and co-operative education programs, using data collected by the school and Statistics Canada, as well as consultations with local businesses, research, entrepreneurship and government stakeholders.
They also consulted the incubators and accelerators that support the region’s early-stage startups as they grow into fully-realized businesses. Between 2008 and 2018, the Velocity entrepreneurship program created 4,268 jobs and generated $1.3 billion in revenue. The Accelerator Centre, which helps later-stage startups as they work to scale up, has also created 3,300 jobs since 2006. The report also states that they created $1 billion in revenue during that same time period.
ApplyBoard is one of the startups that got a helping hand from the Velocity program at the University of Waterloo.
Brothers Martin, Meti and Massi Basiri launched the college and university application platform back in May of 2015.
They say the incubator program was instrumental in their growth.
“The University of Waterloo was one of the first customers to sign up with our platform,” says Martin. “So far it’s been a great journey from them understanding our needs, giving us the space and all of the resources to work, and helping and advising all along the way.”
In the four years since its creation, ApplyBoard has grown exponentially.
They now have 300 employees and 1,200 universities, colleges and high schools have signed up for their platform.
“ApplyBoard is a perfect example of what this institution is all about,” says Hamdullahpur. “Being able to think outside the box, be a risk-taker, to not be afraid of failure.”
The report also took a look at how the University of Waterloo impacts the region’s overall GDP. They found that the school contributed $1.16 billion, while out-of-town expenditures tallied up to $303 million, co-op earnings topped $251 million, and entrepreneurship programs brought in $80 million annually.