Waterloo is known for a lot of things: its bustling tech community, top post-secondary institutions and proximity to Canada’s largest city. With so much going for it, it’s no surprise that many of the world’s leading tech, manufacturing and automotive brands have decided to set up shop here.
We’re excited to see what 2023 has in store for Waterloo, but first, let’s look back at all the exciting news and impressive accomplishments that made headlines in 2022 and continue to showcase Waterloo as the best place for business expansion in the years ahead.
Here are six reasons to keep Waterloo on your radar in 2023:
1. Waterloo is planted firmly on the map
According to a report from Statistics Canada released in November, Waterloo is one of the top 5 destinations in Canada for immigration. In fact, the region welcomed nearly 28,000 new immigrants from 2016 to 2021, which is double the previous five-year period.
The City of Waterloo specifically saw 9.9% population growth during the same time period, making it one of the fastest growing communities in Canada. It was also ranked fifth among Canada’s best cities with a population over 200,000.
What draws people to Waterloo? Having a dynamic tech ecosystem, one of the largest manufacturing workforces in Canada and three internationally known post-secondary institutions certainly helps.
So does having “Canada’s tech supercharger” in our backyard. The Financial Post featured Communitech in an October article about just how far the Canadian tech community has come in the last decade.
After a visit to the Communitech Hub located in the City of Kitchener, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minster and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland shared:
“I want all Canadians to really appreciate that Canada is not an aspiring technology power – Canada has totally arrived. We are great at technology, we are great at tech startups and Communitech is one of the most important engines for how that has happened and how we’re going to continue to own that podium.”
2. The unicorn search continues
In the tech world, ‘unicorn’ refers to a startup company with a valuation of over $1 billion. We were proud to close off 2022 with four magical creatures in our midst and we’re eagerly awaiting the next one to emerge.
The newest addition to Waterloo’s unicorn team, leading cybersecurity service provider, eSentire announced a $325M financing deal in February that propelled them to a $1.1B valuation.
Faire, an online wholesale marketplace, continued to increase funding in 2022 as they announced a massive raise worth $416M in May. They were also named Fast Company’s Most Innovative Retail Company for 2022 and #26 on Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.
ApplyBoard, the world’s largest online platform for international student recruitment, joined the list of local unicorns in 2020, but continued to make a splash in 2022 as it was recognized by LinkedIn as the #5 startup in Canada for its employee growth and member engagement, among other things.
Rounding out the top four is Arctic Wolf which achieved unicorn status in July 2021 and continues to be recognized as a leading innovator in the security industry.
So, who’s next?
In the fall, 26 new companies were added to Team True North’s list of Canadian businesses with the highest probability of reaching $1B in revenue. Impressively, two new Waterloo companies were added to the list, Clearpath Robotics/OTTO Motors and Miovision Technologies, bringing the total number of local companies on the list to eight.
3. We’re in great company… with great companies
From budding startups to massive global brands, Waterloo continues to attract some of the best businesses in the world.
Take Google for example, which continued to expand its footprint in Waterloo in 2022. With over 1,400 employees in downtown Kitchener, the internet giant committed to building a new 11-floor and 130,000 square feet building that will eventually house as many as 3,000 employees.
We also welcomed two new arrivals to our tech ecosystem in 2022. Constant Contact, a world leader in digital marketing technology, opened its first Canadian office in the fall with a goal of supercharging product development and research.
Not long after that, Enlighted, a leading property technology company that first landed in Waterloo in 2019, announced it would be opening a new office to accommodate their local growth as it continues to develop cutting-edge IoT and sustainability solutions.
The list goes on and on. In fact, here are some of the other local companies that made headlines in 2022:
- Acerta closed $10.4M CAD Series B to help automakers like Nissan and GM build car parts more efficiently.
- Avidbots raised $70M CAD in Series C round to expand fleet of robots.
- DOZR, a fixture in Canada’s fast-growing construction tech sector, raised $27.5M CAD in Series B funding this month.
- RideCo raised $20M CAD in Series A funding for further development of its product, accelerating the future of transit around the world.
- RouteThis Inc. raised $25M CAD in Series A funding, allowing the company to expand its product offerings, double its existing workforce and operate in new markets.
4. We’re witnessing the next generation of talent (and founders)
Waterloo continues to attract growing tech companies – due to cost advantages, community resources and support, location and proximity, and especially our unmatched access to top talent.
For the second year in a row, CBRE identified Waterloo as the #1 small tech talent market in North America in its Scoring Tech Talent report, highlighting our fast-growing graduate and millennial populations, high degree of tech worker concentration and significant cost advantages.
It helps that Waterloo is home to the University of Waterloo, Canada’s top technology university and “Canada’s Most Innovative University” according to Maclean’s Magazine – for 29 years and counting.
The talent emerging from Waterloo’s post-secondary institutions, which includes Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College, continues to stand out in the business world. According to Pitchbook’s 2022 university rankings, the University of Waterloo has produced 494 founders who have collectively raised more than $19B.
5. The Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is paving the way for success
The Toronto-Waterloo Corridor is the 112km stretch between the cities of Toronto and Waterloo and the largest tech hub in North America outside of Silicon Valley.
The geographical powerhouse is home to…
- 17 universities
- 425,000+ students
- 15,000 tech companies, including 5,000+ startups (and growing)
- 300,000+ employees in high-tech industries
With more than 8% of the total workforce employed in tech, the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor has a similar talent density to Silicon Valley – and a much greater density than New York, Boston or Seattle.
But we’re right on their heels. In a recent interview, Communitech CEO, Chris Albinson, shared, “We are growing 350 per cent faster than Silicon Valley, and sometime in early 2023, there will be more tech workers in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.”
" We chose the Waterloo-Toronto region for this expansion because it is Canada’s leading technology ecosystem and one of the most innovative corridors in North America. "
CEO, Constant Contact
6. We have free international expansion services available
Waterloo EDC exists to help businesses locate, re-locate or expand in Waterloo. It’s a big endeavour, but you won’t have to do it alone.
Working together, we’ll build a customized program to connect you to the Waterloo ecosystem and offer a host of complimentary concierge services so you’ll be set up for success and making headlines of your own in no time.
Check out our list of the 10 largest tech companies in our community.