Waterloo EDC Blog

Google announces big expansion of its Canadian operations

Posted by Waterloo EDC on February 6, 2020

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Google has announced plans for significant new expansions in Waterloo, Toronto and Montréal.

At an event in Toronto, the company announced it is constructing new offices in each city, with the aim of accommodating up to 5,000 employees by 2022. Google currently employs 1,500 engineers, sales leaders and AI researchers in Canada, which means it will more than triple in size over the next two years.

In Waterloo Region, the Google campus in downtown Kitchener will expand to include a new tower within Breithaupt Block (a development in the community's Innovation District), bringing the seated capacity to 3,000, more than doubling Google's current footprint in the Region’s largest city.

The other big news is that the company will also launch Canada’s very first Google for Startups Accelerator in Waterloo Region. The accelerator will focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, adding to the area’s robust AI ecosystem.New call-to-action

Finally, Google announced an additional $2.5 million grant for NPower Canada, a charitable organization that launches underserved young adults into meaningful and sustainable careers. The new grant will fund scholarships to help Canadians pursue training in the Python coding language, which is a highly sought-after skillset among tech employers.

“Google has carefully and steadily grown its mandate and presence in Waterloo to become a major, collaborative anchor company in our globally significant tech scene,” said Tony LaMantia, President & CEO of Waterloo EDC. “More importantly, it has strengthened our ecosystem by becoming a magnet for great local and global talent, both in the re-shoring of Canadian expats and attracting new immigrants. In addition, it supports our leading post-secondary experiential learning and co-op programs, startups, scale-ups and broader community education and training initiatives with significant social impact in mind.”

“Google’s growing footprint has boosted Waterloo Region’s dynamic ecosystem. Indeed, a number of local homegrown and Canadian tech companies are thriving here and many ex-Googlers have gone on to start exciting new companies of their own, such as Faire Wholesale—our newest unicorn. I congratulate Google for their Waterloo expansion and, along with my peers in Toronto and Montréal, commend the company’s commitment to the Canadian tech scene with genuine enthusiasm.”

Google originally came to Waterloo when it acquired a small startup with just four employees. Ten years later, the local operation became the company’s Canadian engineering headquarters, spearheading work on Gmail and Stadia. When the existing 150,000 square foot Waterloo facility opened in 2016, it was reportedly their second-largest engineering office outside of their headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Like the other tech leaders located in Waterloo – including OpenText, BlackBerry, Shopify and SAP – and the robust collection of startups and scale-ups, Google has also planted a flag in the area to attract high-quality tech talent in an increasingly competitive global environment.

“The talent pipeline here is world-class quality with better costs, retention rates and collaborative culture than anywhere in North America,” said Steve Woods, Senior Engineering Director at Google Canada, in 2018.

The University of Waterloo, located just five kilometres (three miles) from the planned Google expansion, is Canada’s top technical university. It is home to the country’s leading computer science and engineering programs and has a reputation as one of Silicon Valley’s top talent sources.

Commentary from Toronto, Montréal and Invest in Canada leaders:

“As the municipalities within the Toronto and Waterloo Regions continue to be global centres of tech talent and innovation, we applaud Google’s commitment to the growth in this region and to the Canadian technology ecosystem,” said Toby Lennox, President & CEO of Toronto Global. “Google’s expanding footprint throughout the country signals to international investors that Canada has a diverse, educated and talented work force that is second-to-none. Canada is home to a unique and rapidly growing technology sector, which continues to generate jobs, wealth and innovation for all Canadians. This sector is strengthened by a combination of both international investment and domestic growth. Along with my colleagues in Waterloo and Montréal, we are delighted by Google’s announcement and it will assist us in retaining talent while attracting more major investments as the world looks to Canada as a benchmark for growth and innovation.”

“Since Google’s arrival in Montréal more than a decade ago, they have become a key part of the Montréal ecosystem, steadily growing their footprint and identifying our city’s core strengths,” said Stéphane Paquet, President & CEO of Montreal International. With the launch of Chrome Security, Google AI and Deepmind, Google has helped amplify two major Montréal industries: cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Most recently, Google announced the arrival of Stadia Games, an original games studio in Montréal. Moreover, Google is committed to helping grow Montréal’s tech ecosystem and talent pool. They have partnered with local start-up organizations to increase opportunities for networking through their Google for Startups program; worked with all levels of school to help educate and expose the next generation to tech industry opportunities; and they actively help attract talent to the city. Google carefully considers expansion decisions and we are proud to see they have decided to grow their teams in Montréal, Toronto and Waterloo. Google is an important part of any world-class ecosystem and we look forward to working with them to continue strengthening Montréal and Canada’s tech ecosystems.”

“Google’s expansion is a recognition—and important signal to international investors—of the world-class talent, sound business environment and spirit of collaboration that exists in Canada. By creating jobs for Canadians and opportunities for local suppliers and start-ups, Google has become an important contributor to Canada’s robust innovation ecosystem," said Ian McKay, CEO of Invest in Canada.

Five headlines from Google’s Canadian expansion announcement

  1. Google is launching a big new Canadian expansion in Waterloo, Toronto and Montréal

  2. Canadian offices will accommodate up to 5,000 Google employees by 2022

  3. The Waterloo expansion will significantly expand the workforce at Google Canada’s engineering headquarters

  4. Google will launch Canada’s first Google for Startups Accelerator in Waterloo focusing on artificial intelligence and machine learning

  5. Google will commit an additional $2.5 million to NPower Canada, a young adult training charity


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Topics: technology, artificial intelligence, expansion stories