Why companies flock to Canada’s ‘Silicon Valley’

Access to venture capital, a large pool of talent, and lower cost of living make Ontario’s Waterloo region a magnet for tech expansion.

Since the early days of hand-held device pioneer BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion, or RIM), Waterloo, Ontario has been known as Canada’s ‘Silicon Valley’. In fact, an Expert Market study from October 2018 named the Tri-City area of Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo as the best place in Canada to launch a tech business. The Tri-Cities beat out Toronto, ON (second place), Montreal, QC (third), and Ottawa, ON (fourth) for this distinction.

The ranking was based on criteria that included the amount of venture capital available, Internet download speeds, cost of living, and the available tech talent pool, with the Tri-Cities ranking in the top 10 of each category. The Tri-Cities’ tech appeal includes its proximity to highly-regarded post-secondary institutions – such as the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University – and a strong CAD $15.5 million investment funding (USD $12 million) available per 100,000 people.

In addition to the aforementioned BlackBerry (now leading in the field of enterprise security), other Waterloo tech success stories include OpenText and Vidyard, with both having been recently listed among the Waterloo Area’s Top 100 Employers for 2019 (part of Canada’s Top 100 Employers). Job search engine Monster have also listed companies like high-performance drone maker Aeryon among their list of Hottest Tech Companies in Canada’s Silicon Valley. And in January 2019, Ontario Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek announced support for expanding Ontario’s automated vehicle pilot, centred within Canada’s Waterloo tech hub.

While the Tri-Cities and Toronto are ranked first and second respectively, they have been marketed together as the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, with 15,000 tech companies, 200,000 workers, and 5,200 start-ups in their boundaries.

These combined strengths make the Tri-Cities a prime expansion destination for global tech companies.

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