Canada’s Technology Triangle: Waterloo Region

Waterloo Region: A Great Place for Techies

Waterloo Region: A Great Place for Techies

The right place to live means finding one with an economy that can support your skills and your family, and that’s one big reason the Kitchener-Waterloo has been such a big attraction for so many people these days.

Historic Attraction

The area is strongly rooted in a tradition of good manufacturing. Throughout our cities, you’ll find many tributes to the history of manufacturing, and it remains an important part of the economy today. In fact, estimates suggest as much as 36% of the population here relies on manufacturing jobs, and a number of different products are made in the area. From seat manufacturers to various furniture components, the draw here for manufacturing companies appears to remain steady.

A New Economy

While some areas have remained extremely focused on one economic sector that it has the potential to become the downfall of the entire region, that’s just not the case here. Instead, Waterloo Region has spent the last several years diversifying enough to attract the high-value world of technology to its borders, spelling real success for the cities as a whole. Often considered part of Canada’s technology triangle, more tech companies are moving here and …. fast! By the way – have you noticed construction of the new Google building in Kitchener?

A quick look back suggests our story starts with Blackberry, a tech giant that is now slowly losing ground, but it goes much deeper than that. In fact, it started at the University of Waterloo and a commitment to building a curriculum that focused on early technology as far back as the 1960s. Thanks to the continued evolution there, Research in Motion (Blackberry’s forerunner) was able to find its legs quickly, and that development led to many more. In fact, some experts suggest the continued changes at the University of Waterloo have led to more than 250 technology companies popping up in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Today, The University of Waterloo has one of the heaviest concentrations of mathematical and computer science talent in the world. They offer an inventor-owned IP policy to help spur the continued growth in the area. This dedication to the education necessary for continued tech growth appears throughout the area too. Wilfrid Laurier University has the first 12 month MBA program in the world, and Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is also located here. Conestoga has one of the highest rated schools of engineering in the country. There are also a number of research centers that contribute to the landscape including the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, and the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy – to name a few!

The Landscape Today

Blackberry may no longer serve as the tech powerhouse it once was, but thanks to the hold this essential piece of the market has built right here, Kitchener-Waterloo continues to attract major technology companies. Well established names like Open Text, Google, EA, and Christie Digital are all right here. What’s more, though, is there are currently nearly a thousand tech start-ups in the area. Desire2Learn is a case in point. An online education software company, their staff grew from 200 to 700 in less than two years.

Creating a Space for Innovation

Part of the reason Waterloo Region is so successful at attracting these growing businesses is the fact that the entire area is doing everything they can to keep them there. Starting in 2004, Kitchener alone began launching initiatives to help keep tech companies flocking to the area. They’ve made a number of investments in the downtown area to help make more hospitable places for companies and residents alike, and just a few years ago, they began work on King Street, the downtown core of the city to help further beautify the area. With new lighting, wider sidewalks, lowered curbs, and even a space for street events and festivals, people are drawn to the area easily, making it a natural choice for tech companies.

External investment into our area doesn’t hurt either. The former Lang Tannery was purchased by a real estate company in 2007, then promptly converted to space for commercial firms and digital tech companies. It’s become the hub in the area, hosting some of the biggest names in the world of high-tech, including Google. With no sign of slowing despite the failure of some bigger tech companies, the Kitchener-Waterloo area is still at the forefront of this big industry sector.

Add that to other perks like the fact that Canada is the most tax competitive country among the G-7 nations, our workforce is one of the most educated, we have the lowest R & D costs among G-7 nations, and we also have a AAA credit rating, and you have options many companies really want to consider.

This area is poised to support not only those already in the tech sector, but those wishing to join it. Accessible, beautiful, and ideal for companies and employees alike, the Kitchener-Waterloo area is clearly going to remain a draw for many industries in the near future.

Thanks to the massive growth of these companies, new residential areas have popped up too. With upscale lofts, homes, condos, and more appearing in and around the city, there are plenty of real estate options perfectly designed for those interested in becoming part of Canada’s Technology Triangle.

If you are planning to move to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, let me help you find the perfect home by calling 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.