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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Phoenix

5 charts that compare Waterloo's technology ecosystem − talent, real estate costs, research and more – to Phoenix, Arizona.

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. We’ve scored our data and gone head-to-head with tech markets across the US, coming out victorious against AustinPittsburghColumbus and Detroit.

How will things wrapup with Phoenix, Arizona?

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 Austin, TexasPittsburgh, PennsylvaniaColumbus, OhioPhoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah and Detroit, Michigan. You can find a full summary here.

Matchup #6: Waterloo, Canada vs. Phoenix, Arizona

Waterloo and Phoenix share a handful of similarities. We are both home to a thriving talent pipeline, fueled by globally ranked universities, are known for our collaborative tech ecosystems and offer a relatively low cost of living. We make for a good matchup.

Quick Facts:

*CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

Round One: Tech Talent Density

SOURCES: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

Waterloo shines with respect to tech talent density when compared to hubs across the US. In fact, we were just named the #1 small tech talent market in North America for the third year in a row.

A lot contributes to Waterloo’s impressive density, but there are a few factors in play that contribute to this.

With Waterloo’s unmatched ecosystem, talent, research assets and location, the region has become the largest robotics and automation cluster in Canada, propelling it as a leader in global tech.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and Arizona State University

We have finally met our match! While UWaterloo still has a larger computer science program, Arizona State University’s engineering program is massive, eclipsing Canada’s largest engineering school.

Round Three: Research Output (0-100 scale)

SOURCE: QS Global University Ranking, 2024

Waterloo takes back the lead. Waterloo is home to a number of top research centres and business incubators, so it’s no surprise that the region is leading the way in citations per faculty. This impressive feat reflects Waterloo’s  dynamic environment, where cutting-edge research and collaboration thrive, solidifying its reputation as a global leader in tech.

Round Four: Rent

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

Waterloo takes the win here. Our commercial rent costs are well below Phoenix’s.

In Waterloo, it’s possible to find a working space that supports your company’s expansion plan while realizing significant cost savings, all without sacrificing top-quality talent.

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 and Phoenix are very neck and neck this round. But, the high-quality talent for 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 has significant advantages in talent, research productivity and cost compared to Phoenix. Yes, we are proud of our community, but the numbers speak for themselves! Want a more detailed comparison?

Summarizing success

In the race between Waterloo and Phoenix, 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 Phoenix.
  2. Arizona State University’s s tech programs have much higher enrollment than UWaterloo.
  3. UWaterloo had more citations per faculty than Arizona State University.
  4. Waterloo had lower renting costs than Phoenix.
  5. On average, tech salaries in Phoenix are lower 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.

Learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem