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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Why Toronto is the Fastest Growing Tech Hub in North America.The secret is out — Toronto’s tech scene is no longer under the radar. Yearafter year, the Canadian city has climbed its way up the tech talent powerrankings. Just last month, Bloomberg got out the megaphone and announcedToronto amongst the world’s best tech hubs.The following post is part of a series that explores the Canadian techcommunities where we operate. You can read the first post of the series, whichexplains why we choose to help companies build remote teams in Canada, here.The city created 28,900 tech jobs in 2017, 14 percent more than in 2016, andup 52 percent over the past five years. Toronto’s additional tech jobs in 2017totaled more than the San Francisco Bay, Seattle and Washington, D.C. marketscombined.Such a vibrant tech community cannot be created overnight. The most importantcomponent to Toronto’s recent success is the city’s long track record of theright mix of culture, education, diversity, and talent that a tech hub needsto thrive. This complex and unique combination is the reason why Terminaljumped at the chance to work in Toronto. Despite its massive growth in 2017,we believe Toronto will continue to flourish as a tech community. Ourinvolvement aside, here are a few key reasons why:#### Dedication to Developing TalentThe Toronto area is like a well-managed football club. Barcelona, Chelsea,Juventus — these are clubs that secure quality and longevity by investing inthe development of young players and provide different arenas for them to honetheir skills on their way to becoming top-tier pros. Some clubs spend 10 yearstraining young talent. Lionel Messi, for example, started training withBarcelona when he was 13 years-old. The Toronto area is raising the same kindof superstars to compete on the international tech pitch through itsuniversities. The University of Toronto and the nearby University of Waterloocreate a 1–2 punch for best computer science programs in the country. Theiralumni network is chalk-full of big tech names like Geoffrey Hinton, AlanCannistraro, and John Baker. At international competitions, the universitiestrade blows and often beat the best that America has to offer including MIT,Stanford, and Harvard.Smooth results like these don’t happen overnight.Their co-op programs allow students to hone their skills at a professionallevel early in the game and gain invaluable real-world experience. The UTprogram is 12 to 16 months, providing students enough time to become involvedin large-scale projects, build relationships with employers, and reachprofessional milestones. Waterloo, which is widely believed to have the bestco-op program in the world, requires six semesters in the field. Both programstypically allow students to earn a salary along the way, which helps minimizecollege debt. The average American leaves school with $39,400 in debt. Lessdebt eases the pressure on graduates to follow career paths that can help payoff debt faster and choose a path for which they are passionate. It also meansthey can afford a home or other things that increase quality of life faster.To help students step into entrepreneurship, both UW and Toronto offer twoeffective accelerator programs — Velocity and the Creative Destruction Lab.When asked during an interview about the Ontario tech scene, Alan Cannistrarotook special note of the added value of the programs. “They nurtureentrepreneurs. I am blown away by the drive of people coming out of theprogram now to start their own companies and I think that’s a direct result ofthe universities choosing to focus on that.”Strong university and entrepreneurship support programs create a cycle thatfuels growth within the tech community. Local grads start companies and mentoryounger entrepreneurs, and the cycle continues. Over the years, Toronto and KWhave created an environment that is full of disruptors and innovators whoseinfluence spans the North American tech scene. According to the CBRE report,there was a 60 percent growth in CS degrees last year, which puts theuniversities in the position to continue and expand the trend.There’s plenty going on in Toronto’s neighborhoods like the DistilleryDistrict.#### Quality of LifeWhile academic and job opportunities may encourage locals to stay put, it’sthe quality of life that keeps them there. When you weigh factors such as costof living, public transportation, business environment, politics, and safety,Toronto is a world-class city. The fourth largest city in North America,Toronto consistently makes the international list of top places to live. In2017, The Economist ranked it the fourth safest place in the world. Thelocals, however, will tell you that it’s the plethora of things to do in thearea that give Toronto such high marks on the livability and quality-of-lifescale.The city of 2.8 million boasts 177 theaters, 41 museums, 43 registered artgalleries and eight concert halls. The average cost of buying a home is$326,000 less than Vancouver, the country’s most expensive city. On top of avibrant art and music scene, Toronto adds a level of diversity that few citieshave. 51.5 percent of residents are considered part of the “visible minority”population.#### Local Companies and Investment Provide Opportunities to Grow andOpportunities to Expand the Global HorizonThe Bloomberg piece talks about an influx of new roles, but it doesn’t speakto the local companies that are helping to grow junior tech employees intosenior employees.It’s true — Toronto doesn’t have a unicorn, but that doesn’t mean there aren’tplenty of impressive workhorses. D2L, for example, employs over 750 employees.FreshBooks employs over 250. Wealthsimple raised over $51 million earlier thisyear and is adding employees at a neck-breaking pace. Outside of making a namefor themselves on an international level, these companies are either creatingopportunities for younger people to level up to management roles or bringingin outside professionals that further enrich the local tech community.According to PwC Canada and CB Insights’ latest report, total venture capitalfunding to Canadian tech companies in Q1 of 2018 increased 52 percent, with$1.28 billion ($1 billion USD) invested. Surprisingly enough, one of the majorplayers in funding these local startups is the Ontario Municipal EmployeesRetirement System pension fund (OMERS), which manages over 450,000 current andretired civil servants. Most notably, OMERS has invested in companies such asWattpad and Interaxon. Bottom line — there are well-funded local companiesthat create the perfect environment to help tech talent grow over time.As important as it is to have local talent build local companies that arefunded by local sources, American investment inevitably adds to the techenvironment. Big name companies have allocated investment from home soil andinfused it into their northern neighbor cities. Salesforce announced that itwill invest $2 billion in its Canadian operations. Amazon is consideringToronto as its second headquarters. Companies like AirBnB, Facebook, Google,and IBM have had satellite offices in Toronto for years. Our company andothers like it help round the ecosystem as well. Opportunities to work onprojects once reserved for talented individuals willing to move to SiliconValley are now open to the world. Right now, Toronto Terminal Members areworking with cutting-edge companies like San Francisco based facialrecognition software company, Ever AI. In general, the fusion of local andglobal projects creates a complete set that offers tech workers the chance towork with companies of all shapes and sizes. Who doesn’t want those options?Overall, what you find is a level of cohesion in the Toronto area that youcan’t find in many other tech-focused cities in the world. We’re happy to be apart of it. The future is bright.To learn more about other Canadian cities with extraordinary tech scenes,visit our Canada page.

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