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New report highlights Waterloo, Canada’s diverse tech ecosystem

A new report says that Waterloo's technology community is very diverse.

A new report that seeks to shine “a light on the Waterloo region technology scene” using publicly-available company information has found that the local tech community is exceptionally diverse, operating in more than 60 different sectors of the economy.

The report, written by Lee Brooks of Cromulent Marketing, used LinkedIn data to get a snapshot of the local technology business community. Here’s what he found:

Diverse Tech Ecosystem

The first thing you probably notice: a ton of different categories. While ambiguous classifications like Information & Technology Services and Computer Software make up substantial portions of the tech ecosystem, you’ll also find companies that list themselves under financial services, manufacturing, biotechnology and construction. The report notes that the grey area, accounting for 31.6% of local companies, is equally diverse.

After reading the report, two things weren’t clear. First, does this study include all tech companies in Waterloo or just those with headquarters in the community? For example, was Google included? Or SAP? Or Artic Wolf?

Second, do companies that primarily identify as being part of a different industry – automotive, for example – but have located in Waterloo to develop tech products get captured in this study? For example, are companies like BorgWarner, TD, Thomson Reuters, and ESCRYPT/Bosch reflected in this chart?

Brooks was happy to clarify.

As it turns out, companies headquartered outside of Waterloo weren’t included. The same can be said of companies that primarily operate in a different industry, even if their main focus in Waterloo is tech.

This makes sense – after all, a category has to have limits, or it isn’t much of a category. Or, in Brooks’ words, “there’s a huge and varied spectrum from ‘OK, definitely tech’ to ‘giant corporation that obviously uses tech, but it’s much more of an enabler than a focus.’” We had similar challenges in capturing the local Artificial Intelligence and AutoTech ecosystems in our cluster maps.

That said, even with how diverse the tech ecosystem looks based on Brooks’ report, it’s actually even more diverse depending on your definition. If you’re including companies that have a substantial presence here (even without a local HQ) and are working on tech in Waterloo even if it’s not their company’s primary focus, suddenly the local tech-based community gets a whole lot bigger.

The trouble with trying to separate pure tech from the rest of the business community is that tech is a part of just about everything now, whether it’s manufacturing, automotive or food processing. It’s actually a big part of our value proposition for companies considering locating, relocating or expanding in Waterloo – companies of all sectors can tap into a world-class tech ecosystem that can help them innovate.

It leads to the inevitable question: is there such a thing as a “tech” industry now, or is the application of technology so ubiquitous that it’s becoming impossible to discern between a tech company making industry applications and an industry company making tech applications?

If one thing is certain, it’s that tech is our strength, and it’s helping drive an ever-more-diverse economy.

“I think that diversity is like an investment portfolio, it protects you from the shocks and give you exposure to a lot of ups,” Brooks said in an interview with the Waterloo Record.

You can find the whole Waterloo Region Technology Marketing Spotlight report here.

Want to learn more about Waterloo’s tech community?