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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Munich

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

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 #5: Waterloo, Canada vs. Munich, Germany

Quick Facts:

Waterloo vs. Munich

Waterloo and Munich make for a good match-up. Both cities combine a growing technology scene with manufacturing prowess, a top engineering and technology university and a selection of automotive giants. We share several similarities, so let’s see what sets us apart.

Round One: Percentage of Population Employed in the ICT Sector

Munich ICT

SOURCE: Eurostat, Waterloo EDC

Percentage of the population employed in ICT is a common measure used to demonstrate a region’s tech talent density. Waterloo’s density is impressive: Canada’s top technology university, Google’s Canadian Engineering Headquarters and hundreds of startups are all located within a 10km/6mi radius. That’s why we’re one of the highest-density tech communities in North America.

Waterloo is also seeing rapid tech employment growth as companies located in the region continue to thrive. Munich is a much larger city, with a substantial focus on manufacturing, so their tech-specific density is lower. 

Round Two: Startups per 100,000 People 

Munich Startups

SOURCES: Startup Genome,, and Conway calculations

Speaking of density, we have the second-highest startup density in the world, after Silicon Valley. Our leadership in this industry standard category of measurement is supported by the University of Waterloo, one of the world’s top technology universities, which produces 18% of Canada’s tech founders alone.

In fact, more than 30% of local MBA graduates start a business, compared to just 7% of grads from America’s elite business schools. Innovation is embedded in our DNA.

Round Three: Patents per 100,000 People

Munich Patents

SOURCE: European Patent Office (EPO)

Patents per capita is another standard measure used to evaluate a region’s innovative nature, and once again, Waterloo stands out. With over 150 research centres and numerous business support institutions, it’s no surprise the region comes out ahead.

Round Four: Tech Program Sizes

Tech programs Munich

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and The Technical University of Munich

This competition is pretty close. The University of Waterloo (UWaterloo) is Canada’s top technology university, home to the largest engineering school in the country. Its tech-related enrollment trumps schools like Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and CalTech – to name a few. It’s big, and it’s in the top 40 for global rankings.

However, the Technical University of Munich is a higher-ranked university (though not by a lot). We can call this one a draw – both are very high quality and quantity.

Round Five: Rent Costs

Munich Rent

SOURCE: Cushman & Wakefield (2016)

When it comes to the cost of doing business, there’s no real comparison. Waterloo’s competitive business rent rates are just one of the many cost advantages in the region. We also have affordable, high-quality talent and a significant research and development cost advantage over the United States.

These advantages all come without sacrificing access to some of North America’s largest consumer markets. Waterloo is less than a day’s drive away from 150+ million consumers in the United States and Canada.

If you like data and want a more detailed comparison, download our European Secondary Markets comparison.

Learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem!