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Canada’s proptech sector includes over 450 startups: Report

The pace of proptech investment and innovation has only accelerated in Canada during the past yea...

IMAGE: Courtney Cooper, principal at Alate Partners and co-founder of Proptech Collective. (Courtesy Alate Partners)

Courtney Cooper, principal at Alate Partners and co-founder of Proptech Collective. (Courtesy Alate Partners)

The pace of proptech investment and innovation has only accelerated in Canada during the past year, with more than 150 companies added to a national database, bringing the total to more than 450 startups.

In releasing its 2022 PropTech in Canada report, Proptech Collective also noted that since its last report in February 2021:

– 12 new companies made it onto the list of the top-25 most funded;

– over 70 proptech companies were founded in 2020 and 2021, with the two highest-funded focused on improving the home purchase experience in Canada;

– over $1.5 billion was transacted across the top three M&As;

– and 77 per cent of proptech startups are located in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary or Kitchener-Waterloo.

“Our perspective is that Canada continues to be a very strategic location for proptech innovation on an international scale,” said Courtney Cooper, principal at Alate Partners and co-founder of Proptech Collective. “Proptech startups benefit from the large list of globally recognized real estate owners and operators headquartered across the country, supportive policies and programs for entrepreneurs, and a deep talent pool.

“No one was tracking how many companies are in this space before we released the report last year. So we don’t really know. There aren’t really great ways to track companies in this space. . . . We’re trying to build out this database.

“The reason why we do it is we think it’s important as a country and as an industry to understand how much innovation is occurring and what kind of companies there are in our country alone.

“It’s growing for the same reasons in Canada as it is globally and that’s that in the last five to 10 years there’s been more adoption of technologies from real estate companies and so there’s more of a market. The realty industry in general has historically been a little slower to adopt technology than other industries.”

Canadian startups attract international funds

She said there is great opportunity now because, “it’s talent, real estate companies, capital all sort of coming together.”

Cooper said Canadian startups have attracted significant capital from some of the largest and most well-known international venture funds. As the industry matures with increased investment and consolidation, Canada will continue to be a strategic global location for proptech innovation.

“We’ve got the talent in Canada. There’s more recognition both in Canada more generally and in proptech that great companies are getting founded here and we have a great ecosystem to build (proptech) companies,” she explained. “Maybe the pandemic helped with that as well because people were taking calls more easily from people everywhere and that could be another accelerant.

“I think the Canadian technology ecosystem has been maturing, and is maturing, and we’re just seeing more and more companies get started here and the rest of the world acknowledges and recognizes that they should be focused on Canada.”

Proptech Collective, with headquarters in Toronto, was founded in 2019. It consists of a group of real estate professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs and community builders who believe technological innovation can change the built world for the better.

It’s a not-for-profit organization, providing a forum for entrepreneurs and industry organizations to connect, learn and work to advance the industry.

Proptech Collective has members in several countries.

Proptech sector a growth area

Cooper said the proptech industry will continue to grow. Depending on how the market evolves in the next couple of years, different parts of the industry might get more tailwind than others.

Real estate companies are very thoughtful about where they invest money, where they spend their time and technology, she noted.

“As the market evolves, we might see a shift in where technology investment is happening. But the technology that we’re seeing helps to make companies more efficient, helping to launch creative ideas more quickly and more affordably from a real estate company’s perspective,” Cooper said.

“So I think there’s a lot of opportunities for partnerships for real estate companies and tech companies as long as they’re providing real value versus a ‘nice to have.’ That continues to be important.”

While the vast majority of the industry is located in the five hubs, aligned with where the greater population exists, Cooper said great companies have emerged in other parts of the country as well.

“We think that great companies can start anywhere. There is great talent in cities across Canada and there’s opportunity for companies to start in other cities, but hubs are important because they create a density of talent,” she added.

“One of the things that I think is interesting in Canada is we’re starting to see more cycles of startups in proptech.”

The report was produced in partnership with PwC Canada and Denton’s Venture Technology group.

“Canada continues to be a proptech hub with a thriving technology ecosystem,” said Frank Magliocco, real estate leader, PwC Canada, in a statement. “After a pandemic-induced pullback in activity, renewed interest has returned to this asset class given the accelerated adoption of technology in real estate and the keen desire to focus on solving problems through innovation.

Many proptech startups less than five years old

“Whether it’s construction tech to unlock value or applications to help measure, track and reduce the carbon footprint, proptech has a role to play.”

The report found 50 per cent of proptech startups have been founded within the past five years. Also 71 per cent of these companies are in the earliest stages (angel, pre-seed, seed).

Investments by U.S. megafunds into Canadian proptechs are on the rise – including rounds from Tiger Global, Coatue, Bain Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners.

The report also noted five key trends transforming the proptech industry:

– Alternative financing platforms to make home ownership more accessible (addy, BuyProperly);

– Omnichannel experience to redefine the role of retail (MappedIn, ShopThing);

– Real estate decarbonization through energy efficiency (Peak Power);

– Construction technology that unlocks value on and offsite (Nexii, EXACT); and

– Impact of Web3 and the metaverse in the physical world (Metaverse Group, OMERS Ventures).

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