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Local start-ups making a global impact

Queen’s supports and accelerates Kingston’s globally ranked start-up ecosystem through partnerships and strategic initiatives.  

Kingston is gaining a reputation as a leader for its environment that supports the success of entrepreneurs who are looking to launch new companies, or start-ups. The city recently ranked ninth in Canada, for the second year in a row, and 183rd globally, according to the Global Startup Ecosystem Index by StartupBlink.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Index has been updated annually since 2017 and is the world’s most comprehensive ranking in this field, measuring the performance of 1,000 cities and 100 countries.

With 166 start-ups in Kingston, the city is a hotspot for innovation and entrepreneurship alongside other metropolises with populations of 100,000-500,000 including, Santa Barbara (USA), Cambridge (UK), Boulder (USA) and Burlington (USA).

“It’s great to see Kingston continue to rank well in the StartupBlink Ecosystem report,” says Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston. “This kind of ecosystem doesn’t happen by accident – it requires partnership, collaboration, and strategic initiatives to build an atmosphere that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship – and I’m very proud of the investments made community-wide to achieve this.”

Collaboration and partnerships

Part of Kingston’s success in the ranking reflects the close collaboration between the university, City of Kingston, and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation. Queen’s core services such as Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI), and student-focused initiatives such as the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, offer unique programs, mentorship, and resources that encourage start-ups to grow their companies. Many of the start-ups are focused on tackling issues that have a meaningful impact on current issues challenging communities and industries across the globe. They also help to that attract, develop, and retain highly skilled workers to the city, strengthening the region’s start-up ecosystem.  

One such program is the QPI-facilitated Women Entrepreneurs Canada (WE-CAN), which empowers existing and aspiring women entrepreneurs by providing them with tools, resources, expert mentors, networks, and community building. Since launching in 2019, WE-CAN has supported more than 1,000 women from underrepresented groups and sectors in achieving their entrepreneurial goals.

QPI is also delivering services to help science- or tech-based entrepreneurs and companies in the Kingston and surrounding area grow their businesses and help prepare them to access the Scale-Up Program. The Scale-Up Program led by Invest Ottawa, Communitech and MaRs Discovery District, and supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, is aimed at helping companies overcome three key challenges to rapid growth and market success – customers, revenue and talent.

“We are pleased to work with numerous partners in our innovation ecosystem to deliver a wide range of programs and services to support entrepreneurs and accelerate the growth of start-ups and small- to mid-sized enterprises in our region,” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal, Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation. “Kingston’s ranking in the 2022 Global Ecosystem Index Report recognizes the strength and impact of our ecosystem, and we look forward to continued collaborations that support the health and growth of our regional economy.”

Kingston Economic Development supports start-ups to become global game changers through many programs and services such as Starter Company Plus, Summer Company, LatAm Start-Ups and the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway’s Soft-Landing Program.

“We are honoured once again to see Kingston ranking positively in a global context. Kingston is very well positioned for startups to tap into international opportunities and to attract global entrepreneurs. Kingston Economic Development with our many ecosystem partners provide tremendous support for start-up investment and ensure resources and opportunities are available for Kingston companies to scale globally,” says Donna Gillespie, CEO, Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

Start-up Success

Among Kingston’s start-ups highlighted in the ranking are Elentra and Distributive. Elentra is a cloud-based teaching aid, scheduling system and assessment tool all-in-one originally developed at Queen’s and is now used to train the next generation of health-care professionals to better serve patients and advance medical research by providing a platform to manage curriculum mapping, assessment and evaluation, competency-based education, and online exam delivery. Today Elentra employees 17 people in the region, and serves more than 30 institutions in Canada, the United States, Singapore and the Middle East.

Distributive is a Kingston-based tech start-up founded by Queen's alumnus Daniel Desjardins in 2017. Using JavaScript and a Web Assembly based distributed compute platform, Distributive accelerates Canadian science, innovation and discovery through edge computing, and databases for predictive modelling and policy analysis. Distributive has worked with not-for-profit and for-profit organizations including the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council and the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce to reduce expenditures on commercial cloud computing and improve the efficiency of operations.

Community impact

In addition to Queen’s commitment to fostering an environment for start-ups to thrive, a recent Economic and Community Impact Study commissioned by the university found that the outcome of these partnerships and programs also plays a pivotal role in increasing economic output and employment opportunities within Kingston.

  • Queen’s has supported more than 700 start-up companies and entrepreneurs, including 600 in Kingston.
  • Queen’s received $3.2 million in federal funding to deliver Women Entrepreneurs Can (WE-CAN), supporting 1,000 women entrepreneurs in the Kingston region.
  • The university has attracted nearly $620 million in research and development to Kingston since 2013, including $144 million in 2018/19.

 

For more info on the ranking visit Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation.