The Hows and Whys of Toronto as the Next Generation Silicon Valley
When we think of Canada, what comes to an average person’s mind is the blessed Niagara Falls, but for a tech geek, the story is different. The primary technology hubs of Canada include mainly Toronto and to a certain extent the capital Ottawa.
So what brought this recent surge of tech companies in Toronto and Ottawa?
Is Toronto becoming the next silicon valley or better off?
San Francisco and the Bay area were the definitions of Silicon Valley. But the recent years have seen the fastest development of tech companies in Toronto. With an average of 30,000 job openings seen as early as 2017, Toronto tech jobs have only gotten better ever since.
This shift in trends is brought on by Toronto’s high-end university IT programs and Nortel Network’s research and development HQ established in 1990. What escalated this surge of Engineering talent to opt for these two cities has a lot to do with the US’s self-destructive immigrant laws. What’s also known as the infamous Trump effect has redirected immigrant IT workers towards Canada.
In recent years Justin Trudeau and his Liberals’ visa policies aided Toronto in making a stronger claim on the tech industry. These stats were brought to light when Indeed (an online job search platform) analyzed the clicks made for tech jobs in the Canadian capital and Drake’s hometown Toronto.
An in-depth study of the explosion in the Toronto tech industry demands an understanding of what caused it. The following factors are seemingly what set into motion the conversion of Canada into an IT hub.
Dynamic Public Policy
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The technological factors in Canada are highly in favor of tech companies. Canada’s 2021 Strategic Innovation Fund amounting to a total sum of US $1.26-billion attracts technology development in Canada.
This fund comes in 5 streams. Streams 1-3 focus on R&D and commercialization, the key features of business innovation and growth. Stream 4-5 creates a network between non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and private sectors. This collaboration aims to allow Toronto tech companies to support technology demonstrations.
The Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto is an ideal example of this association between academia and business. By 2012, CDL had supported 225 scientific startups, as stated in press reports.
According to Ackerman, the “fun, clean, and liberal” political framework is working its magic. Add to that the simple visa process targeted towards IT professionals attracts top tech companies to Toronto. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are only a few big names in the tech world looking to root themselves in Canada, potentially making it the next IT hub.
Race to AI Supremacy
Canada took a decisive leap into AI and biotechnology with its Pan-Canadian AI Strategy in 2017. Canada dubs artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning revolution as its ‘forefront.’ The Pan-Canadian AI Strategy comes armed with 54 industrial partners and a US $125M fund.
This national strategy aims to observe enhanced research strategies, increase skilled researchers, promote global leadership, and foster a national community on AI.
To achieve these goals, Canada has offered businesses attractive incentives. It is going as far as providing customized plans to suit every company’s individual growth.
Some Recent AI Investments
The third-largest tech company has already set foot in Canada. With offices set up in Montreal, Toronto, and Kitcher, Google also invested in an AI lab in Toronto. This US $5M investment was for the Vector Institute in Toronto. Geoffrey Hinton, a cognitive psychologist, and computer scientist, is supposedly the brains behind this idea. Google has appointed Geoffrey Hinton to head the lab.
In 2017, Uber took on new research to develop AI for self-driving cars. Research teams are invested in utilizing map data and vehicle’s built-in detection system to enhance traffic prediction accuracy. Following this, in 2018, Uber publicized its plans to invest US $20M into the city by opening an office expansion of its autonomous car centers.
NVIDIA, a giant in developing interactive gaming graphics, expressed an interest in delving into deep learning using an AI facility. Toronto has also caught the attention of Etsy. This e-commerce company will build a Machine Learning Center of Excellence in Toronto. The year 2018 also brought Samsung to Canada. This leading smartphone manufacturer established a new R&D office to reinforce research into the field of AI.
Tronto’s tech industry has gained the spotlight among the fastest-growing industries in Canada. In 2019, Collision, a major tech conference, was moved to Toronto from New Orleans. In recent years Toronto has hosted the test grounds for Uber’s autonomous driving cars, Alphabet’s innovative neighborhood, and Sidewalk Labs. Additional reports suggest that this city might even house Amazon’s next headquarters.
Tech companies in Toronto have been leading the market for a while now. At this rate, the next generation might know Toronto as the Silicon Valley. A medal championed by America.