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News roundup: Google expands, autotech headlines and more

A round-up of business and investment news stories from Waterloo, Canada in February 2020

February marked exciting times for Waterloo with Google’s big Canadian expansion announcement, the University of Waterloo making waves in autotech innovation and much more.

Here’s a rundown of what happened in Waterloo this February:

1. Google announces a major expansion in Waterloo

Google made major headlines in February, announcing a massive expansion in three Canadian cities – Waterloo, Toronto and Montreal. The expansion will increase the Waterloo workforce to 3,000 people and the number of Google Canada employees will more than triple in headcount by 2022. The announcement also included the launch of Google’s first start-up accelerator in Canada, located right here in Waterloo Region, which will focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Communitech sat down with Steve Woods, Google’s Senior Engineering Director, to chat all things Google, including topics like “Why Waterloo” and what makes this a fitting time to expand in Canada.

2. Waterloo is the fastest growing community in Canada

Waterloo experienced a population growth of 2.8% in the last year, making it the fastest growing community in Canada. Who else made the list? Read our article or check out coverage from the CBC.

3. Four Waterloo companies ranked as having most unicorn potential

Waterloo is once again being recognized for being home to several successful tech companies. The annual Narwhal List ranked four Waterloo companies – ApplyBoard, eSentire, Vidyard and North – as a few of the top companies with the most growth potential based on their ability to raise funds over time. Check out our in-depth blog post on this here.

4. University of Waterloo had grand opening for autonomous vehicle research facility

February marked the grand opening of the Autonomous Vehicle Research & Intelligence Laboratory (AVRIL), a high-tech research space, located on the University of Waterloo campus. The workspace offers an opportunity to research automated driving, vehicle connectivity, and advanced driver assistance systems. What’s more exciting is that the famed ‘Autonomoose’ – a program that may allow for self-driving cars to navigate harsh weather conditions – is located in AVRIL. Read more from BetaKit.

5. Faire opens new office in Kitchener

Although Faire was founded in Kitchener-Waterloo, the opening of their new office marks a new era for the company’s Canadian headquarters. With plans to double their Kitchener headcount in the next year, Faire Kitchener is not slowing down anytime soon. BetaKit has more on this exciting story here. Read more about Faire’s dynamic growth here or learn more about their unique corporate structure here.

6. Waterloo-to-Toronto transit experiences huge boost in daily riders

A new report from Metrolinx states that ridership from the local GO Transit station has experienced a 40.2 % growth rate from April 2019 to December 2019 as service levels have increased. This growth is a strong indicator of the steadily improving connectivity with Toronto. Read more from Kitchener Today.

7. Waterloo’s west business park could bring 8,500 jobs

Waterloo is making big development moves as a planned business park development in Waterloo continues along the path to approval. With a total of more than 110 acres in close proximity to the University of Waterloo, this parcel of land has the capacity to host facilities that could house a workforce of 8,500 people. The park will feature multi-modal transportation including raised cycling lanes, three-metre-wide, multi-use trails and a new public transportation route in that area.

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