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Waterloo: A CBRE Ecosystem Profile

A profile of the Waterloo tech ecosystem, using data from CBRE's latest Scoring Tech Talent report.

Earlier this year, Waterloo was named the #1 small tech talent market in North America by CBRE. This is no small feat. In 2020, we were in a completely different category, listed as the #1 emerging tech talent market. This year’s ranking marks our huge leap from one highly coveted position to another.

So, why Waterloo?

Several factors are used to determine which tech talent market takes the cake in this fiercely competitive annual report. We want to unpack what sets Waterloo apart from the rest of the tech talent markets in North America – and ultimately, why Waterloo came out on top in 2021.

Here is a full profile of the Waterloo tech ecosystem, using CBRE’s latest Scoring Tech Talent report:

Waterloo has an excellent experienced workforce

As one of the top five most concentrated tech markets in North America, Waterloo’s tech workforce is formidable:

  • Waterloo’s tech labour pool growth rate (2016-2020) is the second-fastest in North America at 47.2%.
  • Waterloo is #1 in North America for millennial workforce growth – a powerful indicator of a thriving tech talent workforce, since millennials are the largest demographic cohort in the workplace.
  • Waterloo boasts 25,900 tech workers in its workforce and we also draw from the 300,000+ tech workers across the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor.
  • Waterloo’s tech talent density is 9.6%. Only three other markets – Ottawa, Toronto and the San Francisco Bay Area – top Waterloo’s tech talent labour concentration in North America.

Waterloo’s talent pipeline is unmatched

Waterloo’s tech talent pipeline is exceptional, thanks to our three top post-secondary institutions and our culture of innovation and excellence.

  • Waterloo graduates 3,435 tech students – 1,165 degrees in computer engineering, 786 in math/statistics and 1,502 in other tech engineering – each year from the world-renowned University of Waterloo and Conestoga College, a leading polytechnic institution.
  • From 2015 to 2019, Waterloo saw a 53% growth in total tech-related degree completion.
  • Waterloo is also within 100km/65miles of 17 post-secondary institutions, which produce 10,000 additional tech graduates per year.

Substantial office rent advantages in Waterloo

Office rent remains the second largest cost for most companies – after talent – even as remote work becomes more common. Waterloo offers office rent at a lower cost than most, in comparison to other small tech talent markets and other Canadian tech hubs.

  • Waterloo’s annual gross direct asking rent per square foot (SF) is $19.67* and the vacancy rate is 7.7%.
  • For Canadian tech hub context, Toronto’s gross direct asking rent per SF is $26.48* with a 10.9% vacancy rate.
  • For small tech talent market context, Pittsburgh’s gross direct asking rent per SF is $23.07* with a 16.3% vacancy and Austin’s is $23.07* with 16.3%.


Waterloo can help you lower your operating costs*

Locating, relocating or expanding to Waterloo is an excellent financial decision for both companies and employees. We are one of the most affordable places to set up shop in North America.

  • Annual operating costs in Waterloo are $31.4 million for the typical 500-person tech company using 75,000 sq. ft. of office space. Of this, tech talent accounts for $16 million, support talent accounts for $9 million, management talent accounts for $5 million and office rent is $1 million.
  • For comparison, annual operating costs in the San Francisco Bay Area are $68 million. Pittsburgh’s annual operating costs are $40.9 million, and Austin’s are $45.7 million.
  • Taking this information into consideration, Waterloo’s annual operating costs are $36 million to $9 million less than the San Francisco Bay Area, Austin and Pittsburgh.
  • In the report, CBRE states that Waterloo – among other Canadian cities – provides the best value when it comes to cost and quality.

*All operating costs listed are in USD

Quality vs. Cost

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent 2021

Why Waterloo?

This is why.

Waterloo’s tech ecosystem is on fire. From our workforce to talent to operating costs, it’s clear that Waterloo is the ideal spot to locate, relocate or expand. Contact our team today.

Note: All statistics listed in this blog post were retrieved from CBRE Scoring Tech Talent 2021.

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