The Scale-up Challenge for Canada? Obstacles to High-Growth Technology-based Firms and the Policy Response

Digitally-enabled technology firms will assume greater significance for Canada’s future economic growth and prosperity. The ability to grow digitally-enabled firms from the startup phase to globally competitive scaled up firms will be a critical part of this challenge. Among the advanced industrial economies, Canada ranks second only to the United States in terms of entrepreneurship, but most Canadian start-ups do not scale successfully. Available data indicates that less than 3 percent of Canadian service firms beyond the five-year mark qualify as “high-growth.” Canadian firms simply aren’t scaling, but why? In cooperation with its industry partner, this project seeks to address this puzzling outcome through a rigorous, empirical investigation of the obstacles to scaling-up and the policy supports needed to overcome them. The project’s industry partner and the broader Canadian policy community will benefit from the project’s insights into what works and what doesn’t for firms looking to scale.

Steven Denney
Travis Southin
Faculty Supervisor: 
David Wolfe
Partner University: