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.
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; Phoenix, Arizona; Columbus, Ohio; Salt Lake City, Utah and Detroit, Michigan.
What we haven’t really dug into – until now – is an investigation of how our ecosystem stacks up against smaller US tech markets that are showing undeniable momentum, like Pittsburgh, Columbus and Phoenix. 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 are now ready to take on Pittsburgh.
The friendly competition continues!
Matchup #2: Waterloo, Canada vs. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh and Waterloo make for a good matchup. We’re both home to a globally ranked university known for excellence in computer science, a thriving robotics and automation cluster and each community has a reputation for entrepreneurship.
Round One: Tech Talent Density
Waterloo wins round one and it isn’t much of a surprise – we have one of the highest-density tech ecosystems in North America. In fact, we were just named the #1 small tech talent market in North America for the second straight year.
What contributes to Waterloo’s impressive concentration of high-tech employment?
First, we have fewer universities and students, but Waterloo is home to Canada’s top technology school, the University of Waterloo, which is ranked top-40 globally for engineering and technology and top-25 for computer science. Second, Canada has world-leading business-friendly immigration programs that are helping American companies retain global talent in the face of H-1B visa uncertainty. The cherry on top is our growing collection of global tech giants like Google and Shopify, and high-growth unicorns like Faire and ApplyBoard, mean Waterloo has exceptional density in a small area.
Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes
Carnegie Mellon’s engineering and computer science enrollment numbers just can’t keep up with UWaterloo.
Despite UWaterloo’s high enrollment numbers, its talent pool is far from diluted. The school’s grads are among the world’s most work-ready, they’re known for putting a premium on entrepreneurship, and 85.5% of all new UWaterloo software engineering students enter with a 95%+ average.
Oh, and we actually have more engineering and computer science than Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh *combined* – UWaterloo is a behemoth and the largest computer science program in the global top-25.
Bonus Waterloo fact: Waterloo’s Conestoga College is the only Ontario college that is accredited to hand out engineering degrees – contributing to our already exceptional talent pipeline.
Round Three: Research Output
Pittsburgh takes round three, but Waterloo isn’t far off! Considering the fact that Carnegie Mellon is recognized as a “new Ivy” – meaning they are competitive with other Ivy League colleges in attracting top talent – and runs one of the top AI labs in the US, it’s notable that Waterloo’s research performance stacks up.
Round Four: Rent
It’s a tie. According to CBRE, an office in Waterloo will cost you the same amount as an office in Pittsburgh.
But tech salaries? That’s a different story.
Round Five: Tech Salaries
It’s all Waterloo here.
Waterloo’s lower cost of living is a bonus. With our average residential rates 50% less than Pittsburgh and our average household spend on healthcare nearly 50% less, 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 Pittsburgh. Yes, we are proud of our community, but the numbers speak for themselves. Want more detailed comparisons? Check out our Cost Advantages.