No gloom and doom among Canada

Despite economic forecasts for stormy weather, Canada’s technology sector continues to shine, according to Deloitte & Touche.

On Wednesday the Toronto-based consulting firm announced the finalists for its 2001 Canadian Technology Fast 50. The list of the country’s fastest growing technology companies is compiled annually by the Toronto-based consulting firm.

The list proves that in the midst of economic uncertainty, Canada’s tech sector is experiencing vibrant, nation-wide growth and expansion, said Garry Foster, national technology and communications director at Deloitte & Touche.

“The list looks at growing technology companies right across the country – we’re seeing more and more growth and expansion in the west, and we’ve also got our first two Maritime-based companies as finalists,” Foster said.

Fast 50 finalists include Research in Motion (Waterloo, Ont.) and BCE Emergis (Montreal), which have been on the list every year since its inception, and two Nova Scotia firms, Knowledge House (Halifax) and InfoInterActive (Bedford). Foster noted that lesser-known companies such as Pivotal (Vancouver) and Dundas Software (Markham, Ont.) have placed for the second or third time.

The Maritime and the Western regions are growing into tech hot spots, Foster said. Besides the first-time showing from Nova Scotia, Alberta’s presence grew from four companies last year to seven this year. He attributes that to the rise of university educated technology-minded individuals in these regions.

“What we’re seeing is a little bit more maturity in those marketplaces. From a base of five years ago, we’re seeing the metrics to build what I would call a technology cluster. For example, when you think of British Columbia, you think of anchor tenants such as PMC-Sierra, Pivotal, and Ballard Power,” Foster said.

Technology clusters, once established only in areas like Toronto, Ottawa, and southwestern Ontario, are now starting to develop in other Canadian regions, he noted.

Industry sector representation also shifted in the past year – the communications and networking sector doubled its presence from five to 10 firms, while the Internet sector now has five firms on the list, versus three last year.

Despite the economic doom and gloom, Canada’s tech sector has experienced stellar growth over the past few years, Foster added.

“Companies on the list are the smaller companies [under $50 million in sales] and there is still a lot of growth and opportunity in that market sector. Over the base five year period we’re seeing [growth in] software, communications, and networking companies,” Foster said.

He added that the current ‘doom and gloom’ outlook arises from real instability in the capital markets, which has obviously presented problems for certain tech companies.

The Fast 50 defines an eligible technology company as one that manufactures and derives a ‘significant portion’ of operating revenue from a proprietary, tech-related product. The company also had to be operated, headquartered and controlled in Canada for a least five years and which in 2000 reported revenues totalling $1 million or more.

Companies are rated on a five year revenue growth calculation based on the last fiscal year (December 31, 2000).

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