Tech Sector Powering Kitchener-Waterloo To New Heights

This article was originally published in the 2020 Spring issue of Invest In Style Magazine.

A recent report released by real estate services firm CBRE notes that the tech talent pool in Toronto grew by some 54 percent between, 2013 and 2018. That same study also noted that a number of smaller cities in southern Ontario are also riding the tech wave. With an increase in the tech talent pool of 39.7 percent during the same five-year window, Kitchener-Waterloo is among those cities that have been able to put themselves in a position to capitalize on the bustling tech sector. The municipality increased its tech talent pool by roughly 20,400 people between 2013 and 2019, according to the same CBRE study. Last year, the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list, drew all three of their top-ranked companies from the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

At the top of the list was ApplyBoard, a recruitment platform designed to help international students study at the best institutions of higher education globally. Kitchener’s Intellijoint Surgical and Waterloo’s Auvik Networks were named number two and three, respectively.

Perhaps the best-known tech company in the region is Blackberry Limited, the developer of the BlackBerry brand of smartphones and tablets. The company was founded as Research In Motion in 1984 by Douglas Fregin and Mike Lazaridis, an engineering student at the University of Waterloo.

The region is home to a number of other tech companies such as OpenText, Kik and Maplesoft.

While the tech sector in Kitchener-Waterloo has exploded in the past five years, the conditions for success first began to take shape much earlier.

The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are both located within the municipality and both have become hotbeds for high-tech growth and innovation. Another reason the region has been so successful in attracting tech companies is the cost of living. As housing prices have skyrocketed in major urban centers like Vancouver and Toronto, tech companies have increasingly sought out areas with a lower cost of living in an effort to entice talent.

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Physical distance is also becoming a thing of the past, as collaboration has become increasingly easy over vast geographical distances. The ubiquity of email and smartphones, combined with the creation and advancement of new online communication tools means the work can be done quickly on a global scale.

As the tech sector continues to charge onwards across North America, Kitchener-Waterloo has positioned itself to be at the forefront of an economic evolution.