Into the Scale-up-verse: Exploring the landscape of Canada’s high-performing firms

December 10, 2021

Into the Scale-up-verse

Scale-ups, or high-growth firms, are responsible for the vast majority of productivity growth in Canada, making them an immensely powerful tool in the pursuit of Canada’s long-term economic stability and prosperity. However, only 1 in 100 young firms reach scale-up status within their first ten years. How can we harness, support, and amplify the power of scale-ups and their contributions to the Canadian economy?

A new study, Into the Scale-up-verse: Exploring the landscape of Canada’s high-performing firms , takes the first step toward better equipping policymakers  to support the success of Canadian firms by unpacking the complexity and nuance in Canada’s diverse scale-up universe. Jointly produced by the Brookfield Institute on Innovation + Entrepreneurship and the Innovation Policy Lab, this report analyzes the most recent and detailed dataset concerning Canadian business dynamics to provide a novel and comprehensive guide for those in a position–such as academic researchers, industry players, and government policymakers–to design supportive economic policy and facilitate productive conversations about Canada’s scale-ups.

Among the findings in the report, we identify key themes that best summarize what we now know about scale-ups in Canada:

  • Productivity: Scale-ups drive the majority of productivity growth in Canada. With high-growth firms in many industries experiencing productivity growth in excess of 25% in a single year, there is little doubt that scale-ups are an integral part of Canada’s long-term economic sustainability.
  • Employment: Scale-ups are leading contributors to increased employment and job quality in Canada. Scale-ups employ ten times the number of people compared to non-scale-ups, and average pay at scale-ups exceeds non-scale-ups in almost all industries and across economic regions of Canada.
  • Innovation: Declining investment in R&D poses a risk to scale-ups reaching their full potential. Although scale-ups are more likely than non-scale-ups to spend on research and development—a key driver of firm growth and sustainability—overall R+D investment is stagnating.
  • Exporting: Scale-ups are more likely to export than non-scale-ups. Successfully exporting is a sure sign that a firm has raised their growth ceiling, expanded their market reach, and bolstered their organizational sophistication.
  • Economic Policy: Scale-ups are too diverse and complex for a “one size fits all” policy approach. Using new and comprehensive insights into the three ways scale-ups are defined and measured, policymaking can now apply a more targeted approach to supporting the success of different types of high-growth firms, their behaviours, and contributions.

[Read report]

December 10, 2021

Dan Breznitz’s “Innovation in Real Places” Named to the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award Longlist

FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2021

The £30,000 prize will go to the book that is judged to have provided the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, with £10,000 awarded to each runner-up. The 2021 prize will be awarded in London on December 1. Publishers can enter books here. For details of this year’s judges, and terms and conditions, please visit Please direct any queries to

August 16, 2021


May 4, 2021–Built for All: How Do We Build Back Better?

Built for All, a report by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Centre for Public Impact, examines the prospects and challenges for building an inclusive global economy. In this webinar, panelists will discuss the three key components of this framework: equitable access to resources and opportunities; collective stewardship of shared resources for future generations; and a level playing field for work and competition. By focusing on the actions that businesses, governments, academia and civic organizations need to play, panelists will explore the potential to build a more inclusive global future.


Marcela Escobari, Senior Fellow, Center for Sustainable Development in the Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings
Arturo Franco, Vice President, Research, Data and Insight, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
Dan Vogel, Director, North America, Centre for Public Impact
Joseph Wong (remarks), Vice-President, International, University of Toronto; Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Professor, Department of Political Science


Vibeka Mair, Senior Reporter, Responsible Investor

Sponsored by the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, the University of Toronto, and the Centre for Inclusive Growth

April 30, 2021


April 20, 2021–Canada’s Quantum Internet: Prospects and Perils

Quantum information science harnesses the strange properties of quantum physics to perform new kinds of communication and computation. A future internet that uses quantum networks and quantum computers has the potential to enable many new applications for governments and civil society. Canada has emerged as a leader in quantum information science, and academic and commercial labs are actively experimenting with quantum networks. Yet with any great technological promise there is also danger. Architects of the classical internet did not anticipate the crises of disinformation, cybersecurity, and surveillance that plague global networks. As we look toward a possible future quantum internet, what risks and challenges should we anticipate? How can Canada best position itself to take advantage of its own potential for innovation in quantum technology?

This panel brings together experts to discuss the political, economic, and scientific implications of quantum communications, for Canada and the world.


  • Francesco Bova—Associate Professor, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
  • Anne Broadbent—Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Ottawa
  • Jon Lindsay—Assistant Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Christoph Simon—Professor and Associate Head, Research, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary

Main Sponsor: Innovation Policy Lab

Register here

April 5, 2021


April 6, 2021–Pope Francis and the Future of Work

A recent report by a network of Catholic-inspired institutions, titled “Care is Work, Work is Care,” asked the questions: “What is the meaning of decent work in today’s world?” or “How can we achieve the goal of proving decent work to all in todays’ world?” or “Every worker in the world has a right to decent work: how can we ensure it is respected?” By examining global challenges connected to building a world that is both socially and environmentally just, the report identifies practices and processes that can help direct the future of work towards sustainable and inclusive outcomes.

Join us on April 6, as our esteemed panel discusses the role of innovation in building a future of work that responds to the call to care for our common home.


Paolo Foglizzo, Editorial Board Aggiornamenti Sociali, Milan
Fr. Clete Kiley, Senior Advisor, UNITEHERE International Union; Chaplain, Chicago Federation of Labour
Joe McCartin, Executive Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University
Sarah Prenger, International President, Young Christian Workers, Brussels
Peter Warrian, Distinguished Research Fellow, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto


Claire Porter Robbins, Journalist and Humanitarian Aid worker

Download the Care is Work, Work is Care report:

Sponsored by the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Watch it here

March 31, 2021

Shiri Breznitz on “The Role of Intermediaries and Policy in Entrepreneurship Ecosystems”

Shiri Breznitz on “The Role of Intermediaries and Policy in Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

Talk featured in the session on Policies, Actors, and Outcomes in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, part of the workshop series: Workshop Series: The Evolution, Persistence and Success of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, Cardiff University, UK.

March 27, 2021


March 23, 2021–Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship in Canada

Entrepreneurship is an important part of growing one’s economy. Studies show that entrepreneurship can be learned, it is a skill. In Canada, one of the things that has been holding our entrepreneurs back is intellectual property and data protection. This webinar will focus on the importance of IP protection for entrepreneurship. In particular, we will discuss the intellectual property environment in Canada and existing support for firms.

Panelists will discuss issues relating to their firm’s ability to secure IP especially as it relates to IP education and the role of government in supporting IP protection.


  • Seray Çiçek–Co-Founder & CEO, LSK Technologies Inc.
  • Ryan Hubbard–Senior Counsel, IP Litigation, Shopify
  • Graeme Moffat–Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, System 2 Neurotechnology and Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto


  • Shiri Breznitz–Director, Master of Global Affairs Program and Associate Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto

Main Sponsor: Innovation Policy Lab

Watch it here

March 9, 2021


January 30, 2021–How COVID-19 Exposed Canada’s Innovation Weak Spot

Dan Breznitz, Co-Director of the University of Toronto’s Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, warns that Canada cannot rely on its allies and that the national security risks from losing manufacturing should be a wake-up call.

Watch the full interview here

January 30, 2021


January 19th, 2021— Canada’s Future Skills Strategy: Workforce Development for Inclusive Innovation

In January 2019, the Government of Canada established the Future Skills Council with a mandate to provide advice on emerging skills and workforce trends and to identify and promote pan-Canadian priorities relating to skills development and training. The Future Skills Council report, released in November 2020, recommends equitable and competitive labour market strategies in response to disruptive technological, economic, social, and environmental events. It aims to provide a roadmap to a stronger, more resilient future for Canada. In this webinar, panelists will discuss the report’s key action areas and pathways to successful implementation.


  • Rachel Wernick—Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Skills & Employment Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Denise Amyot—President and Chief Executive Officer, Colleges and Institutes Canada
  • Daniel Munro—Senior Fellow, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy; Research Advisor, Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship
  • David Ticoll—Chair, National Stakeholder Advisory Panel, Labour Market Information Council; Senior Associate, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Sponsored by: Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Watch the event on Youtube.

January 21, 2021