Every major Canadian city is currently vying for the title of “Silicon Valley of the North”, declaring it the spot of burgeoning technological development. The real Silicon Valley in San Francisco is home to Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, and many other titans of an innovative industry. Most big cities in Canada hope to be home to such companies, yet there is no clear winner yet. As it stands, each of the following cities has a lot to boast about, and carries the potential to be the Canadian centre of innovation.
As the most populated Canadian city, Toronto is always in contention in any discussion about a top Canadian anything. From movies, to music, to theatre, to business, to arts and culture, Toronto is the prime headquarters for many industries. In 2016, Cisco Systems, the largest networking company in the world, opened an innovation centre in Toronto. The centre hopes to catalyze and showcase digital innovation and development in the city. The MaRS Discovery District, located in downtown Toronto, has a network of 1,000 high-potential growth startups that generated more than $1.3 billion between 2008 and 2015.
Potential for startups aside, Toronto is home to 30% of Canada’s 40,000 Information & Communications Technology firms. If this city isn’t yet “Silicon Valley of the North”, it’s definitely a top contender.
Industrial designers, programmers or video game developers need to look no further than this Quebecois city. Wearable technology companies like Hexoskin and OMSignal have made Montreal their home. The companies produce their respective line of “smart clothing” that can track your body’s biometric data (heart rate, breathing rate, level of physical activity, etc). Ubisoft, developers of Assassin’s Creed, South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, is one of the top video game developers in the world, and happy to call Montreal their home. Anyone interested in cutting edge innovative technologies should go to this city.
Home to social media management platform Hootsuite and Microsoft’s Canada Excellence Centre, Vancouver was once labelled “Silicon Valley of the North” by CBC News. It’s an attractive city for up-and-coming digital media studios, due to its low corporate tax rate. The large number of tech-focused universities in Vancouver also indicate that the city is prepared for future in innovation for the digital age.
Despite being the capital of Canada, Ottawa is constantly overshadowed by nearby cities with population numbers in the millions. But did you know it holds one of the largest collection of scientists and engineers in North America, second only to Silicon Valley? It could be due to having one of the lowest costs of living as well as one of the highest qualities of life in Canada. Ottawa is also focused on a future in technology and innovation. With a student population of 138,000 across four major post-secondary schools, approximately one in five of them are STEM focused. As STEM education includes science, technology, engineering and math, Ottawa youth may be the deciding factor as to which Canadian city will be the premiere innovative hub.
Alex Correa | The Edge Blog