Waterloo EDC Blog

5 charts that prove the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is a top tech hub

Posted by Waterloo EDC on February 19, 2020

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Waterloo is an extraordinary place for business, technology and discovery. Our world-class institutions, tech credentials, entrepreneurial spirit, bold leaders and diverse workforce all combine to position us as an advantageous destination to land, expand and grow your business. We’ve told our story before.

One of Waterloo’s stand-out value propositions – one that often gets lost in our enthusiasm to tell a Waterloo-centric story – is our proximity to North America’s 4th largest city, Toronto, and its neighbouring regions. Together, these communities create the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor - a vibrant 112km/69mi stretch that forms North America’s 2nd largest technology cluster.

We’ve already written an explainer about the Corridor. Today, we’re going to provide some hard data to illustrate exactly why the Corridor is such a great business expansion opportunity. We’ve scoured our data to take a deeper dive into the Corridor’s credentials to see how we measure up against the top 10 tech-heavy labour pools in the United States.

Here are five charts that prove that the Corridor is a global tech superpower: 

8% of the Corridor’s total workforce are in high-tech jobs


The Corridor is exceptional when it comes to tech talent density – we’re the largest tech cluster in North American outside of Silicon Valley.

So, what contributes to our impressive concentration of high-tech employment?

  1. We’re home to Canada’s largest concentration of engineering talent. The University of Waterloo alone has churned out almost 18,000 mathematics/engineering graduates in the last 5 years. UWaterloo is kept company by 15 other post-secondary institutes all found within the Corridor.
  2. Canada’s Global Talent Stream program makes international recruitment for high-tech jobs simple. You can have a permanent resident visa and work permit approved in just two weeks.
  3. Our growing collection of global tech giants, like Google, IBM and Shopify, has made the Corridor a coveted destination for high-tech job seekers and keeps job retention rates comparatively high.

Combined, you get a diverse talent pipeline that keeps the Corridor growing and competitive.

Click here to download a free guide to tech talent in Waterloo

Major rental cost savings, no compromise

Cost of Working Space 2

This chart illustrates the rental cost of working spaces in major markets around North America: the larger the bubble, the more you’ll pay in rent costs. 

This is the unfortunate reality: finding that perfect location for a reasonable price is a daunting task in most communities. However, within the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor your company can realize a greater than 70% cost savings compared to coastal American cities. You can find a space that supports your company’s expansion plans – there’s room here for your success.

In the 112km/69mi stretch of the Corridor, we have commercial and industrial real estate, land properties and unique co-working spaces available to fit any expansion need – all with proximity to major post-secondary institutions, the 401 superhighway and other major attractions.

The Corridor can make your company more competitive by significantly lowering overhead costs (and more!)

The Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is a great place to live, work and play

Salaries vs. Cost of Living_newDemand for qualified tech talent exceeds supply. To compete, many US tech hubs increase salaries, which leads to higher residential prices, starting a vicious cycle. In places like the Bay Area, costs are so insurmountable, home ownership isn’t a possibility for many and in extreme cases even rental prices are too high for prospective employees.

In hubs like New York and San Francisco, tech workers receive twice as much in salary but end up paying 4x more in rent. Pile on other living costs like health care and private education and quality-of-life begins to diminish.

On average, the Corridor has lower salaries than many competitors, but the biggest difference is in cost-of-living. You can do more living for less money in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.

The Corridor is a true technology cluster

Slide2This data set illustrates true and false technology clusters throughout North America, where the size of the bubble reflects the total size of tech employment in each region.Download the Waterloo AI Cluster Map Now!

What do we mean by a true technology cluster?

A true cluster has a location quotient greater than 1, indicating a regional specialization – a measure of the density of a specialization. Specializations form when a group of companies in a specific industry (like ICT) settle in a geographical region, allowing talent and resources to concentrate ultimately forming a cluster – or a highly developed geography.

Regions in green have a true technology cluster as their Location Quotient (or density index) is greater than 1. As you can see, this is especially true within the Corridor. We host 15,000 technology companies, 5,000+ of which are startups and over 200,000 high-tech workers. In Waterloo, our tech density is so great that we also qualify as a tech cluster – what more would you expect of a community that’s home to Canada’s top three fastest-growing tech companies?

Astounding research output


The Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is well ahead of the pack when we look at per capita research output, narrowly beating out the well-known cluster of research-heavy universities found in and around Boston.

The University of Waterloo is a top-rated artificial intelligence institute and their unique ‘creator owned’ IP policy grants ownership to inventors. Hamilton’s McMaster University is home to more than 70 research centres and institutions and the University of Toronto is consistently ranked in the top five globally for research output. Layer on independent research hubs like Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and other research driven centres like Conestoga College’s Centre for Smart Manufacturing and Lazaridis School of Business and Economics and it’s no wonder we’re leading the way in research output.

Do you want to learn more about the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor's incredible tech ecosystem? Contact our team today for more data and information.

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Topics: technology, talent, R&D