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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Columbus

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

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 Columbus, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. We’ve scoured our data and are going head-to-head with tech markets across the United States. We’ve already stepped into the ring with Austin and Pittsburgh and are now ready to take on Columbus.

You guessed it – the friendly competition continues!

Editor’s Note: This is part of a Waterloo EDC series called “5 Charts: Waterloo Versus” that compares our community with some of American’s top tech hubs, including Austin, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah and Detroit, Michigan. 

Matchup #3: Waterloo, Canada vs. Columbus, Ohio

Waterloo and Columbus’ similarities make for a good matchup. We both have booming startup activity that has attracted a steady growth in venture capital investment, talent coming out of a globally ranked institution and a collaborative tech environment.

Quick Facts:

Waterloo Columbus Quick Facts Chart

**CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

Round One: Tech Talent Density

Tech Talent Density - Waterloo/Columbus

SOURCES: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021


With regards to high tech density, Waterloo beats not only Columbus, but also other tech hubs like Austin, Pittsburgh and Denver – in fact, we were just named the #1 small tech talent market in North America.

How, you ask?

First, Waterloo has fewer universities and students, but is home to Canada’s top technology school, the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo). Add on Canada’s business-friendly immigration programs, a collection of global tech giants like Google and Shopify and high-growth unicorns like ApplyBoard – all within a ~10km/6.5mi radius – and you have the definition of density.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

University Program Enrollment - Waterloo/Columbus - Engineering and Computer Science

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo, Ohio State University

UWaterloo is a powerhouse. It ranks globally with US schools like Ohio State, Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Stanford it’s ranked top-40 for engineering and technology and top-25 for computer science but comes out ahead for tech program sizes when matched up against these schools.

This scale comes at no compromise to talent. Check out these 5 facts about the university that will have you doing a double-take.

Round Three: Research Output

Citations per Faculty- University of Waterloo/Ohio State University

SOURCE: InCites Dataset; Emerging Sources Citation Index (2016)

Winner: Waterloo, again. Keep in mind that Ohio State’s College of Engineering is ranked #3 in the nation in industry research expenditures and is labelled a “public Ivy” – meaning as a public school, it’s considered to be of Ivy League quality. Waterloo coming out victorious says a lot about its research productivity.

For fun, let’s adjust for community size.

SOURCE: InCites Dataset; Emerging Sources Citation Index (2016)

Well, this just seems unfair! This is a good time to mention that Waterloo is one of the most patent-intensive communities in the world – granting 15 patents per 100,000 residents, 11 times the national average.

Round Four: Rent

Waterloo/Columbus Cost of Working Space - both are approximately $2 million

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

A tie! Finding the perfect working space for your company at a reasonable price is no easy task. In Waterloo, you can find the workspace of your dreams at a fair rate, all without sacrificing access to talent or market access.

Round Five: Tech Salaries

Tech Salaries- Median 5-Year Experience - Columbus/Waterloo

SOURCE: ERI Salary Assessor (2021)

It’s all Waterloo here, too. Quality of tech talent and significant cost advantages are central to Waterloo’s value proposition. So much so that CBRE’s 2019 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent ranked Waterloo 1st in Canada for tech talent quality to cost. Our lower housing and healthcare costs are an added bonus. You can do more living for less money in Canada’s fastest growing community.

Waterloo has significant cost advantages in talent, research productivity and cost compared to Columbus. Yes, we are proud of our community, but the numbers speak for themselves. 

Like data?

There’s more where this came from! Learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem.