Toronto skyline

Toronto-Waterloo Ranked Canada’s Top Start-Up Ecosystem

Toronto-Waterloo is the top startup ecosystem in Canada says the Startup Genome’s report. Toronto-Waterloo corridor took the top spot for the startup ecosystem in Canada while Vancouver lost its place in the top 20.

Toronto-Waterloo Corridor at a Glance

  •  Transportation
    • Waterloo is located along Canada’s busiest superhighway, within an hour to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (the business airport in the country)
    • Transit by bus and rail (both GO Train and ViaRail). There are about three trains a day, and travel time is approximately 1h 54m.
  • Real estate
    • Cost of buying or leasing is 28% less than in Toronto. Compared to other North American centres, it is about 80% less than New York City and San Francisco
  • Business climate
    • Businesses based in Ontario also benefit from the lowest overall business costs in the G7, and additional cost savings are available through regional, provincial and federal incentives.
    • A 2018 Genome Report noting the Toronto-Waterloo region ranked among the 20 most robust startup ecosystems in the world
    • Toronto-Waterloo also accounted for half of the top ten companies on the 2019 Narwhal List, which highlights Canada’s fastest scaling private tech companies.
    • In Waterloo, the salary of a software engineer is 50% less than in San Francisco
    • The region is home to over 15,000 tech companies, 200,000 tech workers, and16 post-secondary institutions

The Toronto-Waterloo region moved up three places, from 16th to 13th, becoming Canada’s top startup ecosystem.

Startup Genome’s 2017 report assessed 20 startup ecosystems around the world, but this year, the report published a top 30. Last year’s report provided insight into high innovation ecosystems across Canada, including Toronto-Waterloo and Vancouver, opting for a deep-dive rather than rankings. This year, the ecosystem ranking returned, which saw Vancouver fall nine points over two years, to the 24th spot, a steep drop from its previous positions.

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“Over the past year, we’ve seen the Toronto ecosystem increasingly recognised globally for its growth and unique value proposition. It’s great to see this reflected in Startup Genome’s report,” Chris Rickett, manager of special projects for the City of Toronto, told Tech media company BetaKit. “They are really telling us something we already know – Toronto is on a roll, and our companies, founders and employees are creating world-class tech companies.”

The study comprises data from more than one million companies, 150 ecosystems, and survey data from more than 10,000 startup executives across the globe. Startup Genome calculated an ecosystem index value based on performance, funding, market reach, connectedness, talent, experience, knowledge, infrastructure, and policy.

Vancouver, which ranked as Canada’s top startup hub in the 2017 Startup Genome report, was noted for significant assets in cleantech, blockchain, life sciences, and gaming. During that year, the report said there were approximately 250 cleantech companies in Metro Vancouver, employing 7,700 employees. Canada’s gaming studios contributed $3.7 billion to the country’s GDP, one-third of which is in Vancouver.

However this year, Vancouver saw a drop due to the absence of healthy life sciences ecosystems and a static funding environment, experts said.

Vancouver was one of the three most hindered ecosystems in the rankings dealing with a gap in early-stage funding, according to the Genome report.

The four ecosystems on the rise include Denver-Boulder, Lausanne-Bern-Geneva, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., all four of which have healthy life sciences ecosystems, the report found. Startup Genome’s report noted that even without the rise of those ecosystems, Vancouver would still have dropped in the ranks, due to its two other challenges.

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In the Startup Genome’s 2019 report, Toronto-Waterloo ranked fifth for its blockchain ecosystem and was noted as one to watch for both FinTech and life sciences.