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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Austin

5 charts that compare Waterloo's technology ecosystem − talent, real estate costs, research and more - to Austin, Texas.

We often compare Waterloo’s exceptional tech credentials to other major cities in Canada like Toronto and Montreal, and major US tech hubs like Silicon Valley and New York, where the vast majority of tech investment has traditionally landed.

What we haven’t really dug into – until now – is how our ecosystem stacks up against smaller US tech markets that are showing undeniable momentum, like Austin, Pittsburgh and Columbus.

We’ve scoured our data and are ready to go head-to-head with tech markets across the United States.

Get ready for some friendly competition!

Editor’s note: This is part of a Waterloo EDC series called “5 Charts: Waterloo Versus” that compares our community with some of America’s top tech hubs, including Phoenix, ArizonaPittsburgh, PennsylvaniaColumbus, OhioAustin, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah and Detroit, Michigan. 

Matchup #1: Waterloo, Canada vs. Austin, Texas

Austin and Waterloo share a handful of similarities. We’re both home to major Google offices, a globally ranked university and a booming start-up scene. Austin was even named “Waterloo, Texas” when it was founded. It makes for a good matchup.

Quick facts:

*CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

Round One: Tech Talent Density

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

It’s not surprising that Waterloo wins round one – we have one of the highest-density tech ecosystems in North America – but it’s close.

What contributes to Waterloo’s impressive concentration of high-tech employment?

There are a few factors in play that contribute to this impressive density.

We have an incredibly experienced tech workforce. In fact, we were just named the #1 small tech talent market in North America for the third year in a row.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and the University of Texas at Austin

Again, it’s hard to keep up with Waterloo. UWaterloo is a beacon for world-class engineering and technology talent, but so is the University of Texas at Austin. They’re both in the top-40 globally for engineering and technology schools, after all. The big difference is scale – UWaterloo simply has far more students in computer science and engineering. In fact, it’s the biggest university in the global top-25 for computer science.

That doesn’t mean the talent is watered down, though. UWaterloo’s grads are among the world’s most work-ready, they’re known for putting a premium on entrepreneurship, and 88% of all new UWaterloo software engineering students enter with an 89%+ average.

With cutting edge programming opportunities and leading co-op experiences, it’s no wonder that Waterloo can compete with the best and biggest. It’s also no wonder that 18.6% of all tech founders in Canada were students at UWaterloo.

Round Three: Research Output (0-100 scale)

SOURCE: QS Global University Ranking, 2024

Austin takes round three, but it’s closer than this chart makes it seem. Considering the fact that the University of Texas at Austin is regarded as a “Public Ivy” – a public university that achieves Ivy League-levels of student and faculty quality – it is notable that Waterloo’s research performance is nearly its equivalent.

It’s results like this where Waterloo continues to solidify a global reputation, climbing our way up the QS Overall Top World University Rankings, ascending 42 spots from the previous year.

Round Four: Rent

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

Well, Waterloo wins here. Our commercial rent costs are a third lower than Austin’s.

Finding that perfect working space for a reasonable price is a daunting task in most communities. In Waterloo it’s possible to find a space that supports your company’s expansion plans while realizing a significant cost savings.

With our signature sites page, you can explore the wide variety of real estate options available in Waterloo, from manufacturing facilities to office space, Waterloo has it all.

Round Five: Tech Salaries

SOURCE: ERI Salary Assessor, 2024

Waterloo takes the win again! But don’t think that the quality of our talent is any less, our high-quality talent at a lower cost is a core aspect of Waterloo’s value proposition. In fact, CBRE announced that Waterloo was the #1 small tech talent market in 2023 for the third year in a row.

Waterloo’s lower cost of living is a bonus. As of the 2023 Tech Talent report, Austin’s rent is $1,669 (US) and Waterloo’s is $1,031 (US).  You can do more living for less money in one of Canada’s fastest growing communities.

Summarizing success

In the race between Waterloo and Austin, Waterloo emerges as the clear winner across multiple key metrics. This success can be attributed to several factors, including the presence of one of Canada’s top technology schools, UWaterloo, business-friendly immigration programs and ability to maintain innovation and talent.

Let’s summarize the results of the match-up:

  1. Waterloo has a higher concentration of tech talent than Austin.
  2. UWaterloo’s tech programs have much higher enrollment than University of Texas at Austin.
  3. The University of Texas at Austin had more citations per faculty than UWaterloo.
  4. Waterloo had lower renting costs than Austin.
  5. On average, tech salaries are higher in Austin than in Waterloo.

For companies considering business expansion, Waterloo is a compelling and strategic choice, offering a winning combination of innovation, talent and economic advantages.

Like data? There’s more where this came from!

Connect with us today to learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem.