This is part of a Waterloo EDC series called “5 Charts: Waterloo Versus” that compares our community with some of American’s top tech hubs, including Phoenix, Arizona; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah and Detroit, Michigan.
We often compare Waterloo’s exceptional tech credentials to other major cities in Canada like Toronto and Montreal, and major US tech hubs like Silicon Valley and New York, where the vast majority of tech investment has traditionally landed.
What we haven’t really dug into – until now – is how our ecosystem stacks up against smaller US tech markets that are showing undeniable momentum, like Austin, Pittsburgh and Columbus. We’ve scoured our data and are ready to go head-to-head with tech markets across the United States.
Get ready for some friendly competition!
Matchup #1: Waterloo, Canada vs. Austin, Texas
Austin and Waterloo share a handful of similarities. We’re both home to major Google offices, a globally ranked university and a booming startup scene. Austin was even named "Waterloo, Texas" when it was founded. It makes for a good matchup.
*CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021
Round One: Tech Talent Density
SOURCES: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2022
It’s not surprising that Waterloo wins round one – we have one of the highest-density tech ecosystems in North America – but it’s close.
What contributes to Waterloo’s impressive concentration of high-tech employment?
First, we have fewer universities and students, but Waterloo is home to Canada’s top technology school, the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo), which is ranked top-40 globally for engineering and technology and top-25 for computer science. Second, Canada has some very business-friendly immigration programs that are helping American companies retain global talent in the face of H-1B uncertainty. Third, our growing collection of global tech giants, like Google, Shopify and OpenText, and high-growth unicorns like Faire and ApplyBoard, means Waterloo has exceptional density in a small area. Finally, we have an incredible experienced tech workforce. In fact, we were just named the #1 small tech talent market in North America.
Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes
SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and the University of Texas - Austin
Again, it’s hard to keep up with Waterloo. UWaterloo is a beacon for world-class engineering and technology talent, but so is the University of Texas at Austin. They’re both in the top-40 globally for engineering and technology schools, after all. The big difference is scale – UWaterloo simply has far more students in computer science and engineering. In fact, it's the biggest university in the global top-25 for computer science.
That doesn’t mean the talent is watered down, though. UWaterloo’s grads are among the world’s most work-ready, they’re known for putting a premium on entrepreneurship, and 85.5% of all new UWaterloo software engineering students enter with a 95%+ average.
Bonus fact: 18.6% of all tech founders in Canada were students at UWaterloo.
Round Three: Research Output (0-100 scale)
SOURCE: QS Global University Ranking, 2022
Austin takes round three, but it's closer than this chart makes it seem. Considering the fact that the University of Texas at Austin is regarded as a "Public Ivy" - a public university that achieves Ivy League-levels of student and faculty quality - it is notable that Waterloo's research performance is nearly its equivalent.
We'll also add that within a one hour drive you have the University of Toronto, McMaster University, Western University and more - all great research univerisities.
Round Four: Rent
SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2022
Well, Waterloo wins here. Our commercial rent costs are a third lower than Austin’s.
Finding that perfect working space for a reasonable price is a daunting task in most communities. In Waterloo it’s possible to find a space that supports your company’s expansion plans while realizing a significant cost savings.
Round Five: Tech Salaries
SOURCE: ERI Salary Assessor (2021)
It’s all Waterloo here, too. Quality of tech talent and significant cost advantages are central to the Waterloo value proposition. In fact, CBRE’s 2020 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent ranked Waterloo 1st in Canada for tech talent quality to cost.
Waterloo’s lower cost of living is a bonus. Our average residential rental prices are almost 40% less than those in Austin and our average household spend on healthcare is 50% less than Austin’s. You can do more living for less money in one of Canada’s fastest growing communities.
Waterloo has significant advantages in talent, research productivity and cost compared to Austin. Yes, we are proud of our community, but the numbers speak for themselves. Want more detailed comparisons?
Connect with us today to learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem. Like data? There's more where this came from!