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Canada’s ICT capabilities are not solely concentrated in a few key cities. Several destinations across the country host thriving tech clusters, as Sebastian Shehadi reports

While Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver garner the most international attention, Canadian tech talent is widespread among the country’s other cities, such as Edmonton, Ottawa, Waterloo, Calgary, Québec City and Winnipeg. The tech sectors in these locations offer tens of thousands of full-time jobs, with each city boasting specialities and subsectors, such as cleantech or geospatial.

Waterloo

Waterloo, in Ontario, has the world’s highest concentration of mathematical and computer science talent. It boasts the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Institute for Theoretical Physics, and an Internet of Things manufacturing space (Catalyst137), each the largest of their type on the planet.

The city also specialises in artifical intelligence (AI), autotech, big data, cybersecurity, machine learning and robotics. Leading Canadian ICT companies OpenText and D2L are based there, alongside large foreign firms such as Google.

The integrated Toronto-Waterloo innovation corridor ranks 16th among the top 20 global start-up ecosystems, according to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018. Incubator hub Communitech is one example, boasting 1266 technology members including start-ups, SMEs and large corporations. Communities such as these are supported by Canada’s R&D and corporate investment tax rates, the lowest among the G7 countries.

Calgary

To many people, Calgary in Alberta is synonymous with the oil and gas industry, yet its thriving technology and innovation sector contains the country’s highest concentration of entrepreneurs and start-ups per capita.

“Calgary’s rapidly growing cleantech sector is a natural evolution from its position as a global hub for the energy industry. Our decades of experience driving innovation in and around energy forms a strong backbone for our future as a cleantech hub,” says Dr Terry Rock, chief executive of Calgary Technologies.

The IBM Natural Resources Solution centre uses AI to develop solutions for the oil and gas industry. 

The province of Alberta also specialises in Canada’s C$20bn ($15.1bn) geospatial industry, hosting 22% of the country’s geospatial companies. The city’s other ICT specialisations are in agri-tech, big data, cleantech, communications technology, digital media, geospatial, Industry 4.0 and virtual reality.

Québec City

City’s crown jewel is its optics-photonics industry, home to the world-leading National Optics Institute that has generated more than 30 spin-off companies, and developed technology such as the portable 3D camera for the International Space Station.

The city is home to Canada’s largest national defence research centre, Valcartier Research Centre, and another 64 research centres, clusters and institutes in various ICT subsectors, such as AI, digital media, geospatial, interactive entertainment and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Winnipeg

Although Winnipeg in Manitoba is one of Canada’s lesser known cities, internationally speaking, it is set to have the fastest growing metropolitan economy among Canada’s western cities in 2018, behind only Montréal, according to Canada NewsWire.

The city hosts international giants such as Ubisoft, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, as well as locally grown success stories. One such is Sightline Innovation, one of Canada’s largest machine learning companies that provides AI-based solutions for Industry 4.0 to the insurance, healthcare, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

Winnipeg’s location and low-cost energy has made it an attractive location for data centres. The city also specialises in communications technology, cybersecurity, digital media, fintech, machine learning and AI, and SaaS.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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