Ecosystem Leadership

Pulse on VR: A Living Ecosystem
Virtual Reality Pulse
Pandemic Effect Study

CFC Media Lab has become a leader in the rapidly transforming media and technology ecosystem in Canada and beyond through its research, thought leadership, publishing, speaking and convening activities.

Original Industry Reports

CFC Media Lab maintains a robust publishing schedule throughout the year, commissioning original coverage of the media/tech ecosystem, the venture capital and innovation communities, and a range of industry trends and events.

Because so many Canadian media/tech startups travel to Southern California as they expand their business, CFC Media Lab commissioned Notes from Silicon Beach, a unique series of reports about that vibrant media and technology ecosystem, written by CFC advisor and Los Angeles-based consultant Nick DeMartino. 

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Notes from Silicon Beach Archive

Pulse on VR: A Living Ecosystem

Launched by CFC Media Lab and OMERS Ventures in collaboration with Nordicity , Pulse on VR: A Living Ecosystem represents an ongoing snapshot of the Canadian Virtual Reality (VR) ecosystem as it evolves.

Beginning June 27, we will start presenting data that has been gathered from our survey of the Canadian VR ecosystem. The study – a living and ongoing research project – examines the workflows, tools, challenges and opportunities that VR creators and technologists face. Our goal is to present this data on a quarterly basis here and track how it takes shape over time.

Motivated by a desire to better understand how VR experiences are being created and distributed (the workflow) and which technologies are most prevalent among companies, Pulse on VR also sheds light on VR’s market potential. It notes the challenges and opportunities that companies are identifying as they seize the potential of this transformative medium and shape the future of the VR ecosystem.

Pulse on VR presents information from jurisdictions across Canada – specifically Ontario, Québec, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia – with additional insights gathered from California. This work is intended to benefit companies, funders, investors and content creators working in VR that are seeking to understand where they fit into the ecosystem and how VR workflows apply to their projects.


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Overview of the Initial Study

Co-authored by CFC Media Lab and OMERS Ventures, in collaboration with Nordicity, initially this study was titled, Pulse on VR: A Workflow and Ecosystem Study. It has been designed to focus on the VR ecosystem in Canada and consists of VR startup survey research, as well as case study interviews. Its objectives are to:

  • Map out the key players in VR content creation and technology development from key regions across Canada, with additional insights gathered from California
  • Develop projections of VR opportunities
  • Increase the overall understanding the VR ecosystem

Pulse on VR is generously supported by the Canada Media Fund (CMF-FMC), Telefilm, Creative BC, On-Screen Manitoba (OSM), New Media Manitoba (NMM), the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), SODEC and Super Ventures. 

Approach and Methodology

The research investigates VR content creators, as well as companies that make software and/or hardware that enable VR content, from specific jurisdictions across Canada – notably Ontario, Québec, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia – with additional insights gathered from California. The research will also incorporate experiences such as active VR (e.g., VR games), passive VR (e.g., linear documentary experiences) and hybrid VR experiences (combining both active and passive VR).

The study will address specific topics such as:

  • Who is making VR experiences and creating the tools and/or hardware that enable these experiences?
  • What companies currently have the potential to shape the VR ecosystem?
  • What challenges exist in creating VR experiences in Canada?
  • What future opportunities exist for VR?





Community Partners

Virtual Reality Pulse

CFC Media Lab is the presenting sponsor of “Virtual Reality Pulse,” a customized newsletter on the immersive media industries – AR, VR and XR. You can sign up for a daily newsletter here. Subscribers receive a customized feed of articles, blog posts and trending sources, curated through a combination of individual priorities and trends from more than 20,000 insiders across Canada. is produced by Aggregage in association with CFC.

Pandemic Effect Study


Pandemic Effect Study: Exploring Covid-19’s Impact on Ontario’s Women/Womxn-led Digital Media Businesses was a study conducted by CFC Media Lab in partnership with OCAD University’s Super Ordinary Laboratory and Nordicity consultancy. The aim of the study was to share insights from the perspective of Ontario’s women/womxn entrepreneurs in digital media as they navigated the unprecedented disruption wrought by COVID-19.Through surveys and participatory design workshops, the Pandemic Effect Study identified the core changes experienced by female-identified entrepreneurs and the most effective strategies and supports implemented in response. Insights gained through this project are intended to provide guidance and support women/womxn digital media entrepreneurs both during and after the pandemic.

This research builds on the feminist business principles embedded in CFC Media Lab’s Fifth Wave Initiative, such as radical collaboration, socially generative models that aim for equity and liberation, and holistic resilience that takes into account the socio-economic and political contexts under which we operate.

The study ran between July-November 2020 and was completed in early 2021. The final report can be found here.


There is a well-documented chasm when it comes to research and analysis on the needs, performance and activities of women/womxn-led businesses, both in Canada and globally. What is less well understood, beyond the numbers, is how these women/womxn-owned businesses are disproportionately affected by economic uncertainties and disruptions on a daily basis. In order to address the lack of gender-based reporting and data gathering in this segment, it was necessary to gather data on the unique challenges experienced by female-identified digital media entrepreneurs during the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic,. Without this work, both the successes and failures of women/womxn entrepreneurs would go unreported, and the problems they faced go further unnoticed. The Pandemic Effect Study’s overall objective was to identify, design and share crisis coping strategies from this crucial cohort. The final report focused on gaining women entrepreneurs recognition as a special interest group, providing a generation of entrepreneurs and policy-makers with new data covering key gender gaps within the digital media ecosystem. and putting inclusivity, gender, racial and economic parity at the fore for future discussion on policy and regulation.

Approach and Methodology

From July through November 2020, over the course of three phases, a focused cohort of 28 women/womxn-led digital media businesses in Ontario participated in this study. The participating organizations ranged from companies formed in the past five years, to others with more than 15 years in operation. The companies were micro and small businesses, most employing 1-2 full-time workers. In total, the 28 businesses employed an estimated 200 full-time employees and another 124 as part-time, contract or freelance workers in Ontario. The majority (2⁄3) offered digital media services and digital media content creation. The remaining third provided digital platforms and digital products.

The Pandemic Effect Study report provides a meaningful and realistic record of how women/womxn-led digital media businesses responded to COVID-19 by executing the following project phases:


  • A working group shared research and literature scans on critical topics of relevance and identify key questions


  • Project teamdesigned and distributed an online survey to women-led digital media entrepreneurs in Ontario focusing on key questions identified in Phase 1 The survey was hosted on a secure Canadian-based platform and metaccessibility AODA requirements.
  • The Project Teampromoted the survey widely and aimed for representation within Ontario.


  • With preliminary survey results in place, the working groupexpanded and refined some of the identified coping strategies, and explored them in more detail during a future scenarios virtual workshop.
  • Results from the workshop weresynthesized in a report for participants to review and comment on.
  • The project team supplied this report and guided the participants through it, prompting further refinement and reflection.


  • With the known and potential strategies in place, the project team incorporated the conclusions from this study into the final report.
  • The results of the Pandemic Effect Study were crafted into an easily digestible, visually compelling report.
  • The report was disseminated across Ontario and beyond via the project team’s network of multidisciplinary artists, producers, entrepreneurs, collaborators, partners and industry supporters.


Over the study period, we witnessed the transitions that the participants were experiencing. In the early days of the pandemic there was an explosion of response and reaction. By the time the survey went out in the Fall, trends and coping strategies had started to emerge. Shifts in priorities and the need for a ‘new no longer normal’ outlook began to take shape.

While trends and drivers were predicted to shift over the next three years, participants identified ongoing priorities that they felt were important to address in their planning for the future. Strategies that emerged from the study focused on:

  • Business Modelling and Planning
  • Work Life Balance
  • Spaces to Support Employees
  • Value Chains
  • Partnerships
  • Community and Collaboration
  • Marketing

The progression of this study showed a shift from immediate impact response towards consideration of longer term resilience, with consideration of inter-organizational collaboration and more societal concerns.

There is a need for ongoing environmental scans, to take snapshots of matters of concern and introduce new discussions and sense-making tools (individual and collective) as a strategy forward. Collective sense-making in this time of shock should help to reduce the impact and foster new partners and a resilient network of entrepreneurs moving forward. The pandemic is one of many shocks that we anticipate on the horizon. Impacts and Strategies identified here may help in the preparation for future disruptions in the current context of the world.

Click here to see the Pandemic Effect Study Report

Print-friendly PDF available  here.



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