Waterloo EDC Blog

Nine big ways Waterloo has changed in the last 10 years

Posted by Waterloo EDC on June 20, 2019

5 developments in Waterloo

Over the last decade, Waterloo has transformed into a hub for innovation, tech excellence and a place where industry giants come to thrive. From the creation of tech incubators to the re-emergence of Waterloo icons, this community has supported the growth and development of a robust tech ecosystem. We have compiled a list of nine developments from the last decade that have helped build Waterloo into the tech hub it is today.   

Waterloo's big developments over the last decade:

UWaterloo strengthens its reputation as Canada's top technical university

Investments in the University of Waterloo’s (UWaterloo) engineering facilities have further strengthened its claim as a world-renowned engineering powerhouse. In the last 10 years, the university has opened two new top-of-the-line engineering buildings – Engineering 5 and Engineering 7. The former provides students with a 20,000 ft. design centre complete with engine test labs, a 3D printing lab, design studios and project collaboration space. The newest expansion, Engineering 7, meets the demands of enrollment growth with additional support for robotics. There's a reason UWaterloo has been named Canada's most innovative university for 27 consecutive years by Maclean's Magazine

Engineering 7 Building
Google at night

Google opens R&D headquarters in Waterloo's Innovation District 

Over the last 12 years, Google Canada’s Waterloo operation has grown from a four person office to a team of more than 600. Originally located in the Lang Tannery, in 2016 Google opened its new Canadian engineering headquarters in a beautifully renovated, brick-and-beam building complete with a maker’s lab, games room, fitness centre (with two-storey climbing wall) and room for substantial growth – the building has capacity for 1,000 employees. In Waterloo, software engineers, product managers, user experience researchers, and designers collaborate to build systems used by hundreds of millions around the globe, including Gmail and the company’s new gaming platform, Stadia. Why choose Waterloo? "The talent pipeline here is world-class with better costs, retention rates and collaborative culture than anywhere in North America," said Steven Woods, Google Canada’s Senior Engineering Director. 

Waterloo opens world’s largest Internet-of-Things manufacturing space

Catalyst137 is the world’s largest IoT manufacturing space, a place where Waterloo’s growing IoT companies can find the resources needed to compete in the global market. The 475,000 square foot former warehouse has become home to the Waterloo-area maker community, providing centralized funding, consulting, engineering and other services under one roof. Opened in 2018, this hub already has some high-profile tenants, including Toyota, BorgWarner and Miovision.

Communitech Data hub-1

A new hub for data driven entrepreneurs 

Communitech, an innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,400 companies has spun off a new hub for the data-driven tech community - the Communitech Data Hub. This 19,000+ square foot hub, situated in an old police station in Uptown Waterloo, offers collaborative space in the heart of the Data District, steps away from Perimeter Institute and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). With partners CIBC, City of Waterloo and Quantum Valley Investments, the Data Hub is the best place for data-driven entrepreneurs, tech startups and enterprise tenants to succeed.

Velocity Garage drives entrepreneurship in Waterloo

In 2010, Velocity – the University of Waterloo’s leading entrepreneurial program – moved into a 37,000 square foot space in the Lang Tannery in Downtown Kitchener. Known as the Velocity Garage, this incubator has helped launch more than 300 companies, including several high-growth firms like Kik, Vidyard and North. Velocity Garage has spear-headed the entrepreneurial spirit of our community, assisting companies that collectively have raised over $850 million in funding, creating more than 2,300 jobs.

Velocity Garage

The re-emergence of a Waterloo icon

BlackBerry, once known for inventing the smartphone, has re-emerged as one of the world’s largest cybersecurity firms. Earlier this year, BlackBerry announced the acquisition of Cylance, an artificial intelligence and cybersecurity company, for $1.4 billion. The Canadian government now considers BlackBerry the industry standard for trusted technology. Over the last decade, BlackBerry has worked to become a highly competitive software innovator, regaining its position as an iconic Canadian company.

Laurier re-invents its leading business school

Wilfrid Laurier University celebrated the grand opening of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics’ newest building, Lazaridis Hall, in 2017. Led by a $20 million investment from BlackBerry founder and Waterloo native Mike Lazaridis, the newly named Lazaridis School of Business and Economics is re-inventing itself as a technology-focused management institute. This 220,000 square foot space houses the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises, the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, and the Department of Mathematics. This makes it a one-stop shop for incredible business talent and expertise. Laurier also offers the largest business co-op program in Canada.

Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute becomes the world's largest theoretical physics research hub

Perimeter Institute has grown to become the world’s largest independent theoretical physics research hub, and mercurial growth has required significant expansion. In 2011, Perimeter celebrated the grand opening of the Stephen Hawking Centre, a $29 million, 55,000 square foot extension that created space for 150+ new researchers and encourages multi-disciplinary research activity. Thanks to investments like this one, Perimeter Institute played a key role in producing humanity’s first ever image of a black hole, and is now ranked as one of the world’s top two or three physics research centres.

$2 billion + development boom in Waterloo

Following completion of a brand-new light rail system, Waterloo has seen an explosion of new development. There is currently about $1 billion in new development planned for the downtown core – including six 20+ storey residential towers and new office towers offering 386,000 square feet of office space – and the whole region has more than $2 billion in new development planned. Waterloo is growing, fast.

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Topics: quantum, technology, talent, business, site selection, R&D