North American Tech Talent Tour, Stop 1: Toronto

Thinking of changing career but recent travel restrictions got you down? Worry no more, VTRAC is taking a virtual trip across North America to find the most promising up-and-coming tech hubs, and we’d love for you to come along.

First stop, Toronto!

In recent years, the city of Toronto has added more tech jobs than San Francisco and New York combined, with a consistent growth rate of around 54% since 2013. So, what has led to this success?

With more than 150,000 full-time students currently enrolled, Toronto is home to some of the best IT post-secondary facilities in the world. These notorious universities and colleges are continuously replenishing the city’s supply of tech talent. Combined with the ability to stay and work in Canada 3 years after graduation through the Post-Graduation Work Program, the results clearly show: As of 2018, 64% of Toronto residents between the ages of 25 and 64 carried a post-secondary education, and Toronto’s high skilled workforce was made up of nearly 1.5 million people.

Starting-up AI (in more ways than 1)
For more than two decades, facilities such as the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo worked hard on the foundations for AI technologies and the government took notice. Canada became one of the first country in the world to implement a national AI strategy. Local start-ups quickly took advantage of the new programs by applying AI into various industries such as business analytics, autonomous vehicles and life sciences. Today, there are more than 500 global AI firms across Canada, with the greatest concentration of AI start-ups being located in Toronto.

Our Start-ups know Diversity
One of the strongest contributors to Toronto’s tech environment is the diversity of the technology companies themselves. Unlike many other tech hubs, the future of Toronto tech is not limited to the smartphones and apps that made the Valley so popular. Toronto’s success comes from the integration of technology and AI into our top sectors such as automotive, construction, food & beverage, digital media and life sciences and only continues to grow with increased R&D and VC investments.

It’s a real adVENTURE
According to the Canadian Venture Capital Report, Canadian VC for Q1 2020 reached a staggering $1.36B, a majority coming from some of the world’s most renowned VC companies, including Union Square Ventures, Azure Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Khosla Ventures.

Startup accelerators and incubators in Toronto also play a big role providing young tech companies access to capital, peer support, networking and mentorship.

In addition, the city is home to one of the word’s largest technology innovation hubs, the MaRS Centre. With 1.5 million square feet of space for technology enthusiasts to work in, it’s no wonder that an estimated 2,700 tech start-ups are currently operating in Toronto today.

Maybe size does matter…
The vast size of the Toronto area enables for a unique distribution of technology companies across the entire region. Also unique to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is the distribution of tech companies across the entire district. Each region comes with its own strengths, providing opportunities for companies of all sizes and specialties. Cognizant, for example, created a new 50,000 sq.ft. technology and services delivery facility in the city of Mississauga. General Motors is advancing the capabilities of a fully autonomous vehicle program with the help of 700 talented engineers in Markham and Amazon has established multiple logistics and distribution centres across the region, along with an extension of its Toronto office.

With a current growth rate of 54%, extrapolations from the CBRE 2019 Scoring Tech Talent report show that, with respect to talent, at current growth rates, the GTA would surpass the Bay area in the availability of tech jobs in only five years. Granted, 54% is a strong growth rate to hold on to, but given the reasoning for the growth so far in this article, we don’t think it’s too far-off.

Interested in innovation and building your tech team in Toronto? We can help, let’s chat.