The temperature of Canada's red-hot startup community has risen yet a few more degrees with news of a $30-million program to build early-stage companies into billion-dollar businesses. The program, called Hyperdrive, is the latest offering from Communitech, the industry-led enabling organization in Waterloo Region, which Ontario's premier has called "Canada's most important tech cluster."
Full details will follow Hyperdrive's launch on April 17, but for now, we can report that the program will offer serious money -- up to $700,000 per company -- and world-class mentorship to entrepreneurs seeking a rich tech ecosystem in which to plant and grow their businesses. The program will include an initial three-month sprint leading to a demo day, similar to those at well-known American accelerators TechStars and Y Combinator, but will extend far beyond that.
Companies will get up to 24 months of direct mentorship, plus legal and accounting advice, as they develop, and will have opportunities to pitch for progressively larger investments from an array of investment firms and superangels. The program will also offer soft landings in markets outside Canada to expose entrepreneurs to opportunities and challenges in other markets. Hyperdrive's lifecycle approach to building companies speaks to Waterloo Region's longstanding culture of collaborative entrepreneurship, rooted in 200 years of industrial reinvention and renewal.
Communitech, which will mark its 15th anniversary this year, grew directly out of this culture, and today supports a tech cluster that counts more than 800 companies and generates $25 billion in annual revenue.
Hyperdrive, housed in the Communitech Hub in the former Lang Tannery in Kitchener, promises to take that cluster to the next level, and bolster Canada's position among the world's best places to start a tech company.