The Toronto Waterloo Region Corridor is among the top 20 technology clusters in the world because it links the country’s biggest, most diverse city with one of Canada’s leading centres for innovation, says a global survey.
The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018 says the corridor benefits from the leading research at its 16 universities and colleges, notably the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, which are recognized internationally for programs in computer science and engineering.
Being in the top 20 is good, said Iain Klugman, chief executive officer of Communitech, but getting into the top 10 would be magical.
“That’s really what we set our sights on — how do we get into that top 10?” he said.
The corridor is among only three startup ecosystems in the world that is strong in four of the hottest areas — financial technology, artificial intelligence-big data, life sciences and advanced manufacturing-robotics, according to Startup Genome, the Oakland, Calif.-based organization that put out the report. Silicon Valley and New York City are the only other areas that are strong in all four areas.
“These are the big areas of opportunity, and we are strong in these areas of growth,” said Klugman. “That is exciting and encouraging.”
Unlocking the economic potential of the corridor requires better transportation links between here and Toronto, he said, such as two-way, all-day GO trains and high-speed rail. “That is the missing link,” said Klugman.
About 85 per cent of the value creation among startups worldwide occurs in a handful of places, and that was the main impetus for having this region’s tech sector join with Toronto’s to create the Toronto Waterloo Region Corridor, he said.
“Not only can we not do it on our own, but we have a huge opportunity if we can connect what is happening here with what is going on in Toronto,” said Klugman.
Waterloo Region is ranked third in Canada for technology, behind Toronto and Montreal. When it comes to the number of technology workers and the density of startups, Ontario is second only to Silicon Valley. But Silicon Valley dwarfs all challengers when it comes to venture capital.