The Tech City of the Future Is Not in the U.S. or Asia, It Is Toronto

The Cognoscenti team’s recent visit convinced us that Toronto’s tech future looks very bright. (This was one of our favorite photos from the trip.)

The Cognoscenti team’s recent visit convinced us that Toronto’s tech future looks very bright. (This was one of our favorite photos from the trip.)

From 2012 to 2017, the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) created more tech jobs than any other city including the Bay Area. In 2017 alone, Toronto added 28,900 tech employees, more than Seattle, NYC, Washington D.C., and the Bay Area combined. This may seem like a five-year anomaly. However, Toronto is almost certain to grow in stature as a major tech city, driven by its intelligent immigration policies, world-class universities, local government that encourages tech company megaprojects, and advantaged location as climate change progresses.

Unlike the U.S. and most other countries, Canada attracts some of the smartest and wealthiest immigrants in the world due to its spectacular immigration policies. Canada’s Comprehensive Ranking System enables the government to select well-educated immigrants with needed skills who are likely to obtain high-income jobs and/or start their own businesses. This immigration policy has flooded the city with young tech talent since the 1990s, and should continue to do so for decades to come.

Morevover, Toronto’s growth as a tech center is fueled by the talent attracted and produced by several elite universities in global rankings. Situated In the heart of the GTA, the University of Toronto is a top 50 overall university worldwide. Right outside of the GTA, there is another top 50 overall university globally in the city of Hamilton named McMaster University. Finally, University of Waterloo is a top 50 STEM school worldwide, and is located fewer than 120 kilometers from Toronto. There are plenty of other great universities in and near Toronto, many of which are also fantastic at STEM.

The amazing amount of tech talent available in Toronto and a receptive municipal governent incents corporate tech giants to locate large Canadian HQ’s and research facilities there. At this very moment, Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs LLC is investing $1 billion on their project of Sidewalk Toronto. This 12-acre, mixed-use innovation district on the eastern waterfront will turn into reality Google’s vision of a high-tech urban utopia. Sidewalk Labs LLC projects that Sidewalk Toronto will create 44,000 direct jobs, and $14.2 billion in annual economic impact by 2040. Another tech megaproject being built right now is Microsoft’s new $570 million, 132,000 square foot Canadian headquarters in Toronto, which will create approximately 60,000 jobs for the city when it will open in the new CIBC Square complex in 2020.

Finally, as Toronto is northern and inland, it will see very limited impact from climate change. As a result, Toronto should attract increasing numbers ot talented tech workers and enable the GTA to prosper as climate change will get worse. There is a very high probability that the city of Toronto will become a magnet for talented tech industry refugees from threatened large cities in low-lying sea coastal areas over the next several decades.

Only time will tell how critical a center Toronto will become for the global technology industry. But, our recent visit made us very bullish on the outlook for Toronto as a cutting-edge tech hub, driven by its ingenious immigration policies, leading global universities, municipal government that enables tech company megaprojects, and favorable location as climate change accelerates.