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Toronto’s 40,000 science graduates a year feed into what has become North America’s fastest growing jobs market for technology, providing expertise across a wide array of tech areas. Jason Mitchell reports.

Toronto had the fastest growing tech jobs market in North America in 2017, seeing 28,900 new jobs created in the sector. The city – Canada’s biggest, with a population of about 2.8 million – saw the total number of employees in the industry jump to 241,000 at the end of 2017, a 52% hike during the preceding five years, according to real estate group CBRE. Tech firms accounted for more than one-third of the demand for office space in central Toronto.

The city’s tech sector is growing faster than its equivalents in New York and San Francisco. On some measures, up to 400,000 people are employed in the ICT sector in the city. About 14,000 companies from the industry are located in the city and the sector’s total GDP amounts to C$52bn ($39bn).

Northern Silicon Valley 

“Toronto is attracting tech firms from all around the world,” says Sunil Sharma, managing director of Techstars Toronto, an accelerator programme. “Canada generally is seen as a good country in which to start up a tech company. There is an incredible concentration of computer science in the city. Fintech and technology relating to healthcare are also important.”

The city, known as the ‘Silicon Valley of the North’, is strong in a number of tech areas, including artificial intelligence and machine learning; fintech; blockchain; enterprise software; virtual and augmented reality; gaming; and hardware related to the consumer and food tech sectors.

“Toronto is very strong in all areas of technology,” says Janet Bannister, a partner at Real Ventures, a leading early-stage investor located in the city. “University of Toronto is one of the world’s leading AI centres, so that sector is important. Toronto is the banking capital of the country with the five biggest banks [in the conutry] based here. That has led to the rise of one of North America’s principal fintech hubs. Business-to-business tech is also significant. There are many health tech-related companies, as the city has a strong hospital and medical school network.”

The top five international ICT firms all have their Canadian headquarters in Toronto: Alphabet (Google), Cisco Systems Canada, HP Canada, IBM Canada and Microsoft Canada. It was the only city in the country to make the shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters.

Incubating talent

Toronto has more than 40,000 graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects every year and has about 65 accelerators and incubators and more than 4100 tech start-ups. It is home to the IBM Innovation Space, as well as the IBM Blockchain Global Data Centre, which uses IBM Z, a new system designed to encrypt large volumes of data. 

At 56,000 square metres, Metro Toronto Convention Centre is the country’s largest convention centre, while Enercare Centre, at 93,000 square metres, is its largest exhibition space. Events companies – including Business Events Toronto, Toronto Global and the Toronto Leader’s Circle – organise a wide range of tech-related events and conferences in the city. In May 2019, Collision, the fastest growing tech conference in North America, will take place in the city, and is expected to pull in up to 25,000 attendees. 

Meanwhile, in terms of access, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is the fifth most connected airport in the world (and the second most connected in North America after Chicago O’Hare), according to OAG, the air travel intelligence company. 

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine

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