North America reigns supreme for FDI Strategy, with Montreal coming in first for its digital FDI Strategy, followed by New York and Toronto.
Greater Montreal boasts the highest concentration of digital jobs of all Canadian cities, and over the past decade the sector has grown twice as fast as the wider economy. The ecosystem in the city incorporates AI, video games, fintech, software and IT services, while the local TechnoMontreal ICT cluster engages with companies, education institutions, research bodies, investment sources and government bodies to enhance and grow the digital sector.
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The Quebecois government launched the region’s first digital strategy early in 2018, and announced that C$1.5bn ($1.17bn) would be spent on internet-based services by 2023, helping to increase citizens’ IT competences and create a competitive and innovative business ecosystem. A range of agencies in the city support digital companies, including Finance Montreal, a cluster agency for fintech and finance companies; Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms, an AI research organisation; and Alliance Numérique, a video game business network.
It's up to two, New York, New York
New York is ranked second. Its tech sector is currently growing three times faster than in any other US city. More than 7600 tech companies call the city home, and over one-quarter is based in computer system design, more than one-fifth is internet-related and 15% are in telecommunications. New York City Economic Development Corporation has several teams in place to support companies in various sectors, including cybersecurity, smart cities and cleantech, life sciences, digital health and creative and applied tech. There are more than 120 incubators and 96 co-working spaces offering low-cost rental spaces, as well as business services, training and network opportunities, for start-ups and small businesses.
UrbanTech NYC, an initiative to catalyse innovation and support entrepreneurs, and NYC Media Lab, which connects companies in media technology with academic institutions for research opportunities, are just two of a range of programmes on offer to develop the city’s digital sector.
Third-placed Toronto is home to 44% of Canada’s top 250 ICT companies. In 2017, the city was chosen to host Google’s Sidewalk Lab, transforming the East Waterfront area into a ‘smart city’ and acting as a global test case for digital-focused urban development. The city’s MaRS Discovery District is the world’s largest innovation hub and boasts 140,000 square metres of space in the city centre for start-ups, researchers and innovators. Signatories to the facility include Facebook, Etsy and Airbnb.
Toronto benefits from Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Programme, which offers the opportunity for permanent immigration pathways for workers in technology and entrepreneurs. Investors can also avail themselves of the many industry-academic collaborations that take place. Co-op programmes give students two years’ field-specific work experience while they work towards their degrees in several Toronto region universities, including University of Guelph, McMaster University and University of Waterloo, which has the largest co-op programme in the world, offering students placements with more than 6700 companies in 65 countries.