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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Salt Lake City

5 charts that compare Waterloo's technology ecosystem−talent, real estate costs, research and more − to Salt Lake City, Utah

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.

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, like  Phoenix and Detroit. 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 AustinPittsburgh and Columbus and are now ready to take on Salt Lake City.

You guessed it – 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, TexasPittsburgh, PennsylvaniaColumbus, OhioPhoenix, Arizona and Detroit, Michigan. 

Matchup #4: Waterloo, Canada vs. Salt Lake City, Utah

Waterloo and Salt Lake City’s similarities make for a good matchup. We have both seen dramatic transformations in our downtown cores, a healthy concentration of millennials that boast more tech degrees when compared to other major cities and a relatively low cost of living.

Quick Facts:

5 Chart, Salt Lake City Quick Facts

Source: *CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2023

Round One: Tech Talent Density

5 charts, Salt Lake City Tech Talent Graph

Source: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2023

Waterloo continues to reign supreme with regard to tech talent density, coming out in front of Austin, Pittsburgh and Columbus. In fact, we were just named North America’s #1 small tech talent market for the third year in a row.

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, these assets result in an exceptional talent density in a small area.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

5 Charts, Salt Lake City - Enrollment

Sources: The University of Waterloo and the University of Utah

It’s tough to keep up with the UWaterloo. As a is a beacon for world-class engineering and technology talent, ranking globally with schools like Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Stanford – but its tech programs have much higher enrollment.

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.

Round Three: Research Output

5 Charts, Salt Lake City - Citations, Research

Source: QS University Ranking 2023

What truly makes Waterloo stand out from tech hubs around the world is our research productivity. It’s even more impressive when we compare ourselves to Salt Lake City, where the University of Utah is the nation’s #1 institution for technology commercialization.

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

5 Charts, Salt Lake City - Rent

Source: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2023

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

5 Charts, Salt Lake City - Salary

Source: ERI Salary Assessor 2024

The quality of tech talent and significant cost advantages are central to the Waterloo value proposition. With 10.1% tech talent concentration, Waterloo is one of the top five most concentrated tech talent markets in America.

Waterloo’s lower cost of living is a bonus. As of the 2023 Tech Talent report, Salt Lake City’s rent is $1,600 (USD) and Waterloo’s is $1,031 (USD). You can do more living for less money in one of Canada’s fastest-growing communities.

Summarizing success

In the race between Waterloo and Salt Lake City, 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 Salt Lake City.
  2. UWaterloo’s tech programs have much higher enrollment than the University of Utah.
  3. UWaterloo had more citations per faculty than the University of Utah.
  4. Waterloo had lower renting costs than Salt Lake City.
  5. On average, tech salaries in Salt Lake City were higher than Waterloo.

For companies considering business expansion, Waterloo is a compelling and strategic choice, offering a winning combination of innovation, talent and economic advantages.

Want to learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem?

Connect with us today to learn more.