Canada’s ‘Silicon Valley North’ makes its mark

Canada’s ‘Silicon Valley North’ makes its mark

In Toronto, which is also known as Canada’s “Silicon Valley North”, there are as many as 4,100 active tech startups.

Many of those involved may scoff at the label, yet a combination of lower living costs, immigrant and tech-friendly public policies, and a plethora of local and international talent are gaining Toronto, the fourth-largest city in the Americas, a reputation as Canada’s “Silicon Valley North.”

According to a recent report by Tech Toronto, there are currently as many as 4,100 active tech startups in the city, while the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association states that in 2016, Canadian startups raised a record $2 billion in venture capital, a 15 percent increase on the previous year.

While there are likewise burgeoning tech industries in Ottawa and Vancouver, there are several reasons why Toronto, in particular, is thriving.

Beyond the forward-thinking venture capital community, which includes Fidelity Investments Canada, The Amazon Alexa Fund and Intel Capital among its big names, the city is home to the Canadian offices of both Google and Facebook, which act as anchors for the industry, developing talent and then setting it free to pursue its own ambitions.

Ongoing success stories include Shopify, an ecommerce platform that enables clients to set up an online store; Hootsuite, a popular social media management app; and Kik, a freeware instant messaging service.

“Toronto is becoming a leader in producing world-class tech talent,” Werner Dietl, Executive VP of CBRE Canada, said recently. “It shows just how vibrant Toronto’s tech industry has become.”

Crucially, both federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered strong support for technological innovators through a variety of financial assistance programs, while with 150,000 full-time students in the Greater Toronto area, the city has an in-built talent pool on which to draw the entrepreneurs of the future.

Furthermore, with living costs somewhat cheaper than the major U.S. tech hubs, Canadian startups can hire talent for less, while Toronto’s renowned ethnic diversity and immigrant population has also been cited as a key factor in spurring fresh ideas and competition.

Just don’t call it “Silicon Valley North.” As Ameet Shah, a partner at Golden Venture Partners, a seed-stage fund in Toronto, said in an interview last year, “I think Toronto at some level really wants to be the first Toronto.”


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