It was a bell to celebrate a boom.

For the first time ever, representatives from the Toronto Stock Exchange travelled to Waterloo Region to remotely open the day’s trading.

The symbolic bell ringing, held today at the Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener, was a celebration of Canada’s rapidly growing tech industry and, in particular, a tip of the hat to the remarkable success of the Waterloo Region ecosystem.

The bell-ringing duties were led by John Baker, founder and CEO of D2L, a Kitchener-based edtech company that went public on the TSX last fall. He was joined by more than a dozen other founders who each rang a black and red cowbell to open the day’s trading on the TSX at precisely 9:30 a.m.

“This is Canada’s moment,” said Communitech CEO Chris Albinson, who praised a range of founders who tuned in virtually from across Canada to participate in the celebration. “T​hose are our stories and those are things we can be proud of, and that ultimately is what True North Strong is all about – building great companies, doing tech for good and doing it right here in Canada.”

In the past year, two Waterloo Region companies – D2L and cybersecurity leader Magnet Forensics – began trading on the TSX. D2L raised $150 million with its initial public offering; Magnet raised $115 million with its IPO earlier in the year.

Their success is only the tip of the local iceberg. In 2021, Communitech member companies raised more than $2.8 billion in investment. That’s more than they raised in the previous 10 years combined.

And the good news keeps coming. Just before this morning’s bell ringing, Waterloo-based cybersecurity powerhouse eSentire Inc. announced a massive US$325 million raise that propels it to unicorn status with a valuation north of US$1 billion.

In addition, several smaller tech companies based in Waterloo Region have publicly announced more than $75 million in combined investment since Jan. 1, including a $25-million Series A round also announced this morning by smart-home connectivity startup RouteThis.

“We are so pleased to be here today,” said Dani Lipkin, Director of Global Business Development at TMX Group, which operates the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange.

“Communitech has always been a key partner for us in the tech ecosystem, ensuring the next wave of entrepreneurs, founders and companies are all well-supported,” said Lipkin. “When we talk about companies being able to IPO on TSX or TSX Venture Exchange, it is because of the support of organizations like Communitech. There are no $10-million, $100-million or even billion-dollar IPOs without ecosystem partners like Communitech. The support of early stage and medium sized business is so vitally important to our economy and it is critical that these types of business receive appropriate levels of support and funding.”

Lipkin trotted out a number of statistics to illustrate the powerful run that Canadian tech companies are currently enjoying:

  • The TSX and TSX Venture Exchange are home to 10 companies from the Waterloo Region area. In 2021, these companies raised more than $3 billion in combined equity capital.

  • Three Waterloo Region companies launched IPOs on the TSX in 2021 – Magnet Forensics, D2L and Definity Financial (formerly Economical Mutual Insurance). Definity raised CDN $1.4 billion, the third-largest IPO in TSX history.

  • The aggregate market cap of all tech companies on TSX and TSX Venture Exchange has grown to $415 billion today from $84 billion five years ago.

  • Tech companies on the TSX and TSX Venture Exchange raised a combined $14 billion in 2021, up from $3.1 billion five years ago.

  • The annualized return of the S&P TSX Tech Index over the last decade was 25 per cent, better than the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ indices over the same period

“We should be talking about Canadian tech companies becoming global leaders, and not just being localized any more, but being able to support companies that will become the next wave of global leaders,” Lipkin said. “And to everyone in the region, we are excited to see the next wave of companies built here… and maybe a few more IPOs down the road.”

The TSX event, which was held in-person and virtually, attracted guests from the Waterloo Region tech community and from government and the broader tech industry. Many attendees represented companies that have announced significant investment wins over the past year. These include Faire, ApplyBoard, Arctic Wolf Networks, Axonify, Auvik, Bridgit, Trusscore, DOZR, and others.

The event also gave Albinson a chance to talk about Communitech’s True North Strategy. The strategy includes a laser focus on supporting founders, with an emphasis on four areas: Big Data, talent attraction, expanding market and procurement access, and creating a venture capital fund. It also includes an ambitious goal: To help 14 Canadian founders reach $1 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

“This is a Canada story,” said Albinson. “If we work together, support each other, Canada’s moment is right in front of us.”