International business expansion can be complicated. Many businesses face challenges throughout the multi-stage process, often unaware of the resources and support that are available to them.
Waterloo EDC exists to guide growing companies through the international expansion process ensuring all questions are answered and every decision is an informed one. We do this by providing information and insights that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to collect and analyze on their own.
That’s the kind of help Cameron Branston offers to businesses everyday in his role as a market development expert at Waterloo EDC. We spoke to Cameron about why Waterloo is an appealing destination for tech companies and how he guides them through the expansion process.
Q: What makes Waterloo an appealing destination for companies looking to expand?
Branston: Waterloo attracts companies that are developing highly sophisticated technology solutions and seeking a dynamic ecosystem that allows for collaboration and innovation. Waterloo really does embody the old ethos of raising a barn together and that collaboration is infectious in our community.
Waterloo is also known for its world-class universities and a great college. We’re continually churning out high-quality talent which provides a deep pool for companies to draw from.
Additionally, the quality of life in Waterloo is exceptional. I recently relocated to Waterloo with my family after spending time overseas, so I’ve experienced this firsthand. It’s an excellent community for work and play – with top-notch schools, parks and other family-friendly amenities.
Q: What resources and services do you provide for technology companies who want to hire global talent?
Branston: Waterloo EDC directs businesses to suitable Canadian immigration programs, including the Global Talent Stream (GTS) program. This program is comparable to the H-1B visa program in the US except that it leverages global talent more cost efficiently and has a shorter processing period for work permits and permanent resident visas.
The H-1B visa program has become more selective, processing fewer talent applications and favouring bigger companies. It’s a growing issue in the US and one of the reasons why more companies are looking towards Canada for business expansion.
For businesses looking to locate to our community, we can connect you with immigration law experts who can help process applications for employees locating to Waterloo. Waterloo EDC can also act as an official referral partner for the GTS program to help expedite the process and get employees here faster.
Q: What is a common misconception you hear about Waterloo?
Branston: I’m not sure whether it’s a misconception, but when I talk about Waterloo, people often mention BlackBerry. For a long time, it was synonymous with the Waterloo brand.
Waterloo is a dynamic tech community that takes pride in being the birthplace of BlackBerry, a global leader in cybersecurity, which remains an important part of our tech ecosystem. However, it would be a mistake to think that BlackBerry is all we have.
Waterloo’s ecosystem is home to hundreds of tech companies, including giants like OpenText and Google, as well as unicorns like ApplyBoard and Faire. The depth and diversity of this tech ecosystem is astounding.
Q: What’s the first step businesses should take when considering moving here?
Explore Waterloo. Learn about our ecosystem and the types of support that are available to your company. Once you have recognized Waterloo as a potential option, the next step would be to contact us to learn more.
We can provide guidance on how to navigate government support, connecting to our ecosystem, finding professional services, identifying the right commercial or industrial space for your business and assist your company in acquiring data for your decision-making process of locating to Waterloo.
We took similar steps with Enlighted, a California-based company, when they expanded to Waterloo. We helped them join our community in 2019 and three years later they decided to expand their presence by opening a new office, which we also supported.
They initially came to Waterloo to take advantage of our incredible small tech talent market and the next generation of talent graduating from University of Waterloo technology programs.
Q: On a personal level, what makes you passionate about helping businesses expand in Waterloo?
Branston: I love to see companies succeed. It’s inspiring to witness companies come to Waterloo and draw upon the expertise we have here. Change happens here. Waterloo has a very collaborative ecosystem; one that works together to develop game-changing technology solutions for every industry.
At Waterloo EDC, when we talk about inventing the future, it is not just a tagline, it’s reality. Waterloo is part of a wider technology sector that has made a huge impact on the world and we’re excited to be able to share these wins for all the world to see.
Make the move to Waterloo. Set up some time with Cameron to learn how.