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Halifax — A Hotbed for Innovators

Halifax Partnership header
Halifax Partnership header
Nancy Phillips

Nancy Phillips

Vice President, Investment & International Partnerships, Halifax Partnership

Halifax is becoming one of Canada’s most exciting technology and innovation hubs — we’re building a city where education, industry, and government are interconnected and collaborating to create new and better ways of doing things.

Mediaplanet: What makes Halifax a unique and great place to do business?

Nancy Phillips: Halifax is becoming one of Canada’s most exciting technology and innovation hubs with an Innovation District that has the potential to fuel significant growth of startups and scaleups. We’re building a city where education, industry, and government are interconnected and collaborating to create new and better ways of doing things.

Companies are looking to mid-sized cities like Halifax, where affordability coupled with strong economic and population growth, and an excellent quality of life, makes for a great place for businesses and employees. Businesses tell us Halifax has the talent, location, cost, and innovation advantages they need to be globally competitive. 

How is Halifax’s Innovation District different from other highly innovative ecosystems in Canada?

Halifax’s Innovation District is home to 2,000+ companies, numerous incubators and innovation hubs — including Volta, Canada’s East Coast innovation hub, five universities and three community college campuses, major hospitals and R&D labs, risk capital, and all levels of government, supported by mixed-use housing, office, and retail, and a vibrant food, arts, and culture scene.

Our Innovation District, and broader ecosystem, is supporting 200+ startups and scaleups in IT, life sciences, CleanTech, and OceanTech. Halifax is known as Canada’s Ocean City — startups and scaleups across all sectors are supported by Halifax’s ocean cluster. 

How is Halifax’s Innovation District supporting the success of startups and scaleups?

We’re focused on making it easier for companies to undertake R&D, commercialize ideas, and to start and grow their operations. Halifax’s Innovation District aims to increase access to innovation spaces and resources, address infrastructure and programming gaps, and create stronger ties and partnerships between academia, corporations, risk capital, government, and entrepreneurs.

The Halifax Partnership and Halifax Regional Municipality recently launched the Halifax Innovation Outpost, our city’s civic innovation lab. It will provide a platform to address social and civic challenges, enabling startups and scaleups to pilot and evolve ideas and products with public, private, post-secondary, and community partners.

Companies consistently tell us they appreciate our unique ability to bring government, post-secondary partners, and the private sector together to support their growth. We can easily and quickly connect businesses to the right resources and people, and together we facilitate and champion their success. Our size allows us to be open, collaborative, and agile.

What are some examples of successful startups and scaleups from Halifax?

Startups and scaleups in Halifax are making their mark nationally and internationally.

OceanTech companies like Turbulent Research are tapping into opportunities with Canada’s Ocean Supercluster; CleanTech innovator CarbonCure Technologies is leading a global movement to reduce the carbon footprint of the built enviroment using recycled CO2; and Appili Therapeutics is developing drugs for infectious diseases and drug resistant pathogens around the world. 

Established companies are also choosing to expand in Halifax because of our innovation ecosystem. EY Canada opened its Global Centre of Excellence for Robotic Process Automation Service, the first centre of its kind in Canada.

Multi-platform entertainment company, Wattpad, is opening their second headquarters in Halifax, and global insurance/reinsurance provider, AXIS Capital, is building their Business Technology Centre with the potential to hire up to 250 people. Shopify, North Bay Solutions, Arcurve, and HuMetis Technologies are all moving ahead with planned expansions to Halifaxdespite COVID-19. In many ways, the pandemic has made Halifax even more attractive to global companies as they look to expand in safe, affordable, and welcoming mid-size cities offering a great quality of life to their employees.

At the Halifax Partnership, we’re excited to work with startups, scaleups, and established companies to support their long-term growth.

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