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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 scoured our data and gone head-to-head with tech markets across the US, coming out victorious against Austin, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Salt Lake City and Detroit.

How will things wrap up with Phoenix, Arizona?

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; Columbus, Ohio; 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:

Waterloo Phoenix Quick Facts Chart

**CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

Round One: Tech Talent Density

Waterloo/Phoenix Share of High Tech Employment

SOURCES: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

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.

A lot contributes to Waterloo’s impressive density.

To start, we’re home to Canada’s top technology school, the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo). Second, Canada’s business-friendly immigration programs help Waterloo companies like Google and recent unicorn, Faire, retain global talent. Add on 150+ cutting-edge research centres, and it’s no wonder why Waterloo takes the win here.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

Waterloo/Phoenix tech student enrollment - Engineering and Computer Science

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: Patents per 100,000 People

Waterloo/Phoenix - number of patents granted per 100,000 people - Waterloo is at 150 and Phoenix is at 39

SOURCE: US Patent & Trademark Office (2015)

Waterloo takes back the lead. We were missing data for Phoenix’s research output (our comparator in previous editions), so we are comparing the number of patents granted in each city as a representation of their research and commercialization capabilities. Arizona State ranks among the top 10 nationally for university patents granted, so Waterloo coming out ahead says a lot about its applied research output.

Round Four: Rent

Commercial Rent Waterloo/Phoenix both $2 million

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

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

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

Round Five: Tech Salaries

Waterloo/Phoenix Median 5-Year Experience Tech Salaries

SOURCE: ERI Salary Assessor (2021)

Once again, Waterloo wins the round. High-quality talent for a lower cost is a core aspect of Waterloo’s value proposition. CBRE even ranked Waterloo 1st in Canada for tech talent quality to cost in 2019.

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?

This concludes the American edition of our ‘5 Charts: Waterloo Versus’ Series. We will publish a summary of the 5 U.S. cities and launch a Europe-focused version of this series in a few weeks.

Learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem