The latest initiative designed to fuel entrepreneurial companies is the Canadian government's proposed Global Skills Strategy, designed to make it easier to attract "low-risk, high-skill talent." Expected to take effect later this year, it aims to make it possible for companies to get a work permit visa for potential hires within two weeks. "That would really help companies like ours," said Allen Lau, CEO of the fast-growing, Toronto-based storytelling platform WattPad, which has 130 employees. "There's no such thing as too much talent. This will help us to attract talent on a global basis to help us scale the company."
Certainly, even with all of the government support, the Canadian venture capital scene has a long way to go before it is as robust as Silicon Valley's. "There aren't that many funds in Canada designed to serve this industry," said Michael Litt, co-founder of Vidyard, a video platform for business in the Kitchener area, near Toronto, that has raised $70 million in three rounds of financing. "However, bringing money across the border and raising money stateside doesn't seem to be an issue."
Litt now runs a fund that has invested in 50 start-ups. "The advice I always give these individuals is they should definitely go south of the border," said Litt. Given the favorable exchange rate, notes Zuckerman at VarageSale, "U.S. funding goes a lot further in Canada."
— By Elaine Pofeldt, special to CNBC.com