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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Amsterdam

5 charts that compare Waterloo's technology ecosystem - talent, real estate costs, research and more - to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Waterloo is a special place for tech. Our ecosystem’s tech credentials – especially in talent, business costs and research productivity – place us among North America’s most dynamic hubs and we can prove it.

According to CBRE, we’re the top emerging tech talent market in North America and home to Canada’s highest-quality tech talent. According to Deloitte, the fastest-growing tech companies in Canada are right here in Waterloo.

Nothing speaks as clearly as cold, hard data. We recently published data-driven comparisons between Waterloo and emerging US tech markets like Austin, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Salt Lake City, Detroit and Phoenix. The results? Waterloo won each match-up.

Since that series started, we’ve dug up more new data that makes apples-to-apples comparisons with Europe’s top tech hubs possible. We’ll go head-to-head with new “5 Charts” articles about Berlin, Stockholm, London, Amsterdam and Munich.

How will Waterloo hold up against competition from Europe? We’ll see.

Match-up #4: Waterloo, Canada vs. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Quick Facts:

Amsterdam Quick facts

Waterloo and Amsterdam share several key similarities. Both cities blend a flourishing startup scene and supportive business ecosystem with a high quality of life. We make for a good match-up.

Round One: Percentage of Population Employed in the ICT Sector

Waterloo vs. Amsterdam tech talent density

SOURCE: Eurostat, Waterloo EDC

Waterloo’s tech talent density sets the region apart from tech hubs across North America and, it turns out, Europe’s top tech hubs as well.

Waterloo’s concentration and quality of tech talent is one of the region’s defining features. Recently, Waterloo was even ranked first in Canada for tech talent quality by CBRE. With three leading post secondary institutions, including Canada’s top technology school, it’s no surprise we continue to rank on top.

Round Two: Startups per 100,000 People 

Waterloo vs. Amsterdam startup density

SOURCES: Startup Genome,, and Conway calculations

Startups per capita is a standard measure of tech density that demonstrates the entrepreneurial nature of a business ecosystem. This one is pretty close. While Amsterdam’s startup scene is growing, Waterloo’s innovative culture continues to stand out. In fact, Waterloo has the second highest startup density in the world, after Silicon Valley.

Round Three: Patents per 100,000 People

Waterloo vs. Amsterdam patent density

SOURCE: European Patent Office (EPO)

Another standard measure used to evaluate tech ecosystems, patents per capita showcases a region’s research capacity. Waterloo’s exceptional research and development capabilities, including a network of globally renowned research centres, contribute to it’s standing as Canada’s most patent-intensive community.

Round Four: Tech Program Sizes

Waterloo vs. Amsterdam tech education programs

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and The University of Amsterdam

This really isn’t close. It’s almost unfair.

Waterloo is home to Canada’s top technology school, the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo), which ranks in the top-50 globally for engineering and technology, and has nearly 4,000 students enrolled in computer science programs.

The University of Amsterdam is 183rd overall for engineering and technology, with fewer than 800 students enrolled in computer science and artificial intelligence programs. In Waterloo, you’re getting higher quality and quantity.

We’re also part of the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, which means you have access to 16 post-secondary institutions within about 100km, as well as Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College, which are both found within Waterloo.

Round Five: Rent Costs

Waterloo vs. Amsterdam rent costs

SOURCE: Cushman & Wakefield (2016)

Waterloo’s competitive cost of doing business is yet another way in which the region stands out. In Waterloo, you can find the right workspace to support your company’s growth at an excellent rate, without sacrificing access to top-quality talent.

Stay tuned for our next match-up with Munich! As per usual, we will continue to use the same measures for each comparison – we don’t need to cherry-pick numbers to compete.

Learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem

Get in touch with our team today.