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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Pittsburgh

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

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 an investigation of how our ecosystem stacks up against smaller US tech markets that are showing undeniable momentum, like Austin, Columbus and Phoenix. We’ve scored 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!

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, TexasPhoenix, ArizonaColumbus, OhioSalt Lake City, Utah and Detroit, Michigan.

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.

Quick Facts:

5 Charts, Pittsburgh - Quick Facts

*CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2023

Round One: Tech Talent Density

5 Charts, Pittsburgh - Tech Talent

SOURCES: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

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 third straight year.

There are a few factors in play that contribute to this impressive density.

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.

Combined, you get an exceptional density in a small area.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and Carnegie Mellon

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.

This comes at no cost to talent quality. Check out these 5 jaw-dropping facts about the UWaterloo. With cutting edge programming opportunities and leading co-op experiences, it’s no wonder that Waterloo can compete with the best and biggest.

Bonus Waterloo fact: Waterloo’s Conestoga College is the only Ontario college that is accredited to confer engineering degrees – contributing to our already exceptional talent pipeline.

Round Three: Research Output

SOURCE: QS University Rankings, 2024

Pittsburgh takes round three, but Waterloo isn’t far off! Considering the fact that Carnegie Mellon is recognized as a “Private 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.

It’s results like this where Waterloo continues to solidify a global reputation, climbing our way up the QS Overall Top World University Rankings, ascending 42 spots from the previous year.

Round Four: Rent

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2024

Winner: Waterloo, again.

Finding that perfect working space for a reasonable price is a daunting task in most communities. In Waterloo, it’s possible to find a space that supports your company’s expansion plans while realizing a significant cost savings.

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

It’s all Waterloo here. But don’t think that the quality of our talent is any less, our high-quality talent at 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 Pittsburgh. Yes, we are proud of our community, but the numbers speak for themselves. Want more detailed comparisons? Check out our Cost Advantages.

Summarizing success

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