An ICTC Study
Spanning the Virtual Frontier
Canada’s Immersive Technology Ecosystem
Published by ICTC, August 2020
Canada’s Immersive Technology Ecosystem has more than 350 companies, spanning four main hubs of activity: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Alberta, with smaller centres in Central and Atlantic Canada. Immersive technology (XR) is a family of technologies encompassing all forms of computer-altered and extended reality (XR), including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and 360-degree video.
More than 100 new companies with immersive technology products and services were founded across Canada between 2014 and 2017, and XR is projected to add up to US$1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, though this projection will likely be mediated by the impacts of COVID-19 in the short-term. Though many immersive technology companies in Canada are still relatively young, the industry has seen growth. Driving this growth is the subsequent release of smaller, more affordable, and more portable hardware that is making consumer adoption and commercial scalability easier and more widely accessible.
Despite its growth, Canada’s immersive technology industry is still maturing. About 91% of companies in the industry are small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This figure jumps to 98% when considering just Canadian-owned companies and 100% for Canadian-owned companies that exclusively or almost entirely provide immersive technology products and services. As a result of financing challenges, the growth of Canada’s immersive technology industry has somewhat plateaued since 2016. VR and AR were thought to have reached an inflection point for broad consumer adoption that year, but larger scale uptake has not yet taken place.
The number of new immersive technology companies launched each year has also declined in Canada since 2016, but industry consolidation, better hardware, and new promising use cases for immersive technology across industry lines provide unique opportunities for future growth and adoption. As new doors open to further growth and maturation, all eyes are on the next hardware breakthrough, which — as highlighted by interviewees in this study — could be a key component to ignite the next period of significant growth.
Researched and written by Tyler Farmer (Manager, Business Transformation and Partnerships) and Mairead Matthews (Research & Policy Analyst), with generous support from the Digital Think Tank by ICTC team.