The Royal Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge as seen leading into Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at dusk

Tech and software companies are flocking to Ontario at unheard-of rates as the province asserts itself as a global tech leader

CBRE’s 2022 Scoring Tech Talent report is in, and it confirms what global top-tech companies and talent have known for a long time: Ontario, particularly the key markets of Toronto, Ottawa and Waterloo, is a key North American tech talent destination—and the pandemic hasn’t impacted its allure.

Now in its 10th year, CBRE rates the top 50 North American markets by analyzing 13 measures of their ability to attract and develop tech talent, including tech graduation rates, tech job concentration and labour pool sizes and labour and real estate costs.

With award-winning post-secondary institutions, welcoming immigration policies and programs (including the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program) and a supportive, forward-thinking government, it’s no surprise Ontario’s cities rank high on the list.

These standout cities lie along the province’s Innovation Highway, Ontario’s expansive IT corridor that runs from Windsor and Waterloo in the west to Toronto in the Centre and Ottawa in the east.

Toronto moves into the #3 spot

The biggest “brain gain” market on the continent, Toronto’s tech sector added close to 90,000 jobs over the last five years, outpacing San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, New York and Boston. The teeming tech hub produced 26,338 tech degrees in the same period.

Chart indicating the tech talent found in markets over 50,000

Toronto also continues to attract the best and brightest from around the world, even hosting the annual home of the “Olympics of tech” conference, Collision. Globally connected, this tech talent is drawn by the opportunity to develop transformative technologies that focus on artificial intelligence (AI), automotive and mobility, cleantech, digital media, fintech, life sciences and pharmatech.

Tech professions meeting in their office in downtown Toronto, Ontario
The trend of remote hiring continues to grow—as does Toronto’s tech employment, which rose by 44% over the past five years.

Waterloo: North America’s #1 small tech talent market

For the second consecutive year, Waterloo took top place in CBRE’s 2022 Tech Talent Rankings for North America’s small tech markets, ranking #24 overall. The report points to Waterloo as the fastest-growing graduate and millennial populations, as well as the city’s high degree of tech worker concentration and significant cost advantages. Both these factors are fuelling growth in areas such as AI, automotive and mobility, business and fintech, cybersecurity, manufacturing, industry 4.0 and quantum technology.

The report also highlights the significance of the Toronto-Waterloo corridor. With 16 universities and colleges, 15,000 tech companies and 5,200 startups, the cities connected along the corridor have nearly as many tech workers as New York and, at current growth rates, will leapfrog New York City within the next few years.

Ottawa takes the #13 spot

While known as Canada’s federal capital, Ottawa has a long history of attracting and championing tech giants and startups.

As CBRE notes, “Tech talent concentration—the percentage of total employment—is an influential factor in how ‘tech’ the market is and in its growth potential.”

With 11.6% of Ottawa’s total workforce employed in the high-tech sector and 14% of total ICT employment in Ontario, the city has the highest concentration of tech talent on the continent—Toronto and Waterloo are close behind at third and fourth—creating a highly favourable environment for innovation.

Ottawa is home to more than 3,000 information and communication tech firms with decades of innovation, R&D and technological expertise in areas that include aerospace, defence and security, communications technology, cybersecurity, software, 5G and smart cities.

The Ottawa sign in the ByWard Market in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Ottawa has the highest concentration of tech talent relative to its overall workforce of any city in CBRE’s top 50.

London, Ontario: Turning heads in the tech world

For the second year in a row, London, Ontario ranked #10 on the CBRE’s list of the “Next 25” up-and-coming North American tech hubs. Over the past five years, the small-but-mighty city doubled its tech employment. As a nationally recognized test market city, London is an ideal place for companies to develop new tech products and services prior to nation wide, or even global launch.

The skyline of London, Ontario at night as seen from the Thames River
London, Ontario has the potential to grow into a significant tech hub, says CBRE’s 2022 Scoring Talent report.

Concludes CBRE vice chairman Paul Morassutti, “Though the industry faces some very real, short-term cyclical challenges, our longer-term thesis remains unchanged: the technology sector will continue to drive outsized growth as our knowledge-based economy expands.”

Find out more about Ontario’s thriving IT sector as well as its R&D and Technology incentive programs to help get your business started.