If you’re looking for the next technology boom town, you’d do well to look north of the border, as Toronto is seeing sharp growth in startups and employment in the tech sector.
AskforTask Vice President of Operations Jonmichael Moy predicted that Toronto will be the Silicon Valley of the East Coast in a recent Young Upstarts Q&A, saying “There is a growing vibe and energy in the tech scene. You can see it in the many companies now based out of Canada and their growth.”
Moy believes this momentum will continue, thanks to easier access to venture capital funding and to the rich talent pool coming from universities and institutions in Canada.
“Toronto will be a destination that many technical companies will look to establish themselves moving forward, particularly those who are focused on penetrating the North American market,” Jonmichael Moy added.
In years past, some smaller Toronto startups were bought out by American companies and their people migrated to Silicon Valley and other tech hotspots in the United States. Now, however, talent is returning to the 6ix and other large cities in Canada, armed with expertise and skill, and are poised to launch their own tech ventures.
“We don’t have a Google or a Facebook here, but I think we’re in that blossom state. In the next number of years we will have some amazing model companies,” Matt Golden, managing partner at Toronto venture capital firm Golden Venture Partners, told the Globe and Mail.
Toronto is home to several innovative tech ventures, like cloud-based accounting software service FreshBooks, the storytelling community Wattpad, the investment management firm WealthSimple and marketing advocacy platform Influitive Corporation.
And there’s more to come.
Uber plans to launch its first driverless car technology research group outside the U.S. in Toronto. Meanwhile, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is said to be interested in developing a high-tech district downtown, according to The Toronto Star.
Several Canadian tech companies also have satellite offices in Toronto, including Shopify and Hootsuite, along with U.S. tech giants IBM, Apple and Google.
Several factors are fueling Toronto’s tech boom, with the city’s cultural diversity and quality of life being two that are particularly attracting top talent.
There also happens to be active venture capital support for startups in Toronto. Case in point, Golden Venture Partners invested in WattPad and Influitive. Top Hat, a Toronto-based company that creates cloud-based teaching platforms for university students, received $22.5 million (U.S. dollars) from New York venture capital firm Union Square Ventures.
Add to this the current political climate, which is favorable to tech development, research and innovation on both a city and national level. Toronto mayor John Tory, for example, recently organized an innovation working group consisting of tech executives, startup leaders and economic development strategists to explore how the city can help its tech sector grow. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also happened to introduce an “innovation budget” in March this year to help foster startups and spur innovation in the tech sector.
The impact of the tech industry on the job market can’t be understated. In the five-year period ending in 2016, technology-services employment increased 13 percent. The tech sector has been growing at twice the rate of employment in all sectors, according to a report from Tech Toronto, the city’s technology networking community. There are 401,000 tech jobs in Toronto — or 15 percent of the city’s total employment. “The tech ecosystem has been outpacing primary Toronto industries such as finance and manufacturing when it comes to job growth,” the report concluded.