IT companies thrive here

Are you looking for a highly educated and talented workforce? Lower labour costs? A broad ecosystem for innovation and R&D? You'll find them all here in Ontario.

Who's here?

World leaders in big data and cloud computing, data centres, microelectronics, digital media, security encryption, mobile gaming, mobile payments, wireless, telecom and networks and seven of the 10 largest tech companies in the world conduct R&D in Ontario.

From A to Z . . .

20,000 IT companies operate here, including:

Alcatel-Lucent, Agfa Graphics, AMD, Avaya, Bell, bitHeads, BlackBerry, Blammo Games, Celestica, Christie Digital, CGI, COMDEV, DragonWave, Ciena, Cisco, Cogeco, Crosscliq, Brightspace (Desire2Learn), Dell, Digital Extremes, Don River, Ericsson, Facebook, G4S, Gameloft, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Google, Huawei, HP, IBM, IMAX, Intel, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, Interac, Microsoft, MIS Electronics, Mitel, Nokia, OpenText, Oracle, Parametric, Siemens, QA Consultants, QNX, Redknee, Rockstar, Rogers, Ross Video, Sandvine, SAP, SAS, SecureKey, Shopify, SMTC, Square, Teledyne DALSA, Telesat, TELUS, Transgaming, Twitter, Ubisoft, ViXS, Xerox, XMG Studio, Wipro, WipWare and Zycom.

Why are they here?

We're a magnet for leading IT corporations because of the quality and size of our workforce.

  • We have an IT workforce of about 280,700 workers, 80% of whom have a post-secondary degree.
  • Each year, our 44 colleges and universities, which offer more than 200 cooperative programs in the field of IT, graduate approximately 40,000 skilled graduates.
  • Our graduates from science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programs give businesses what they need most: innovative and skilled problem solvers.
  • Whether they graduate from the University of Waterloo's engineering program (the second largest source of engineering talent after MIT in North America), Sheridan College (which has been called the Harvard of animation) or the other 42 colleges and universities, corporations know that our workforce is industry ready.
  • Also, salary costs are approximately 30% lower in Ontario than other competitive jurisdictions.
Sample Comparison of IT salaries by jurisdiction, 2015
Rank Jurisdiction Population
% of population (25+ years of age) with Bachelor's degree or higher Number
of IT
of IT
Software Engineer
(5-year average)
Computer Software Developer
(5-year average)
$ Index $ Index
1 California 39,144,818 32.3% 36,187 773,195 142,617 156 152,747 166
2 Ontario 13,685,200 32.2% 20,168 222,805 91,367 100 92,158 100
3 Texas 27,469,114 28.4% 15,221 476,631 116,282 127 124,807 135
4 New York 19,795,791 35.0% 15,387 272,383 130,595 143 140,053 152


Comparison of IT salaries by city, 2015
Jurisdiction Software Engineer
1-year average total compensation (C$)
Index Software Engineer
5-year average total compensation (C$)
Index Computer Software Developer
1-year average total compensation (C$)
Index Computer Software Developer
5-year average total compensation (C$)
CA San Jose 97,998 139 122,940 140 108,812 140 131,077 141
MA Boston 89,230 126 110,842 127 98,521 127 117,912 127
TX Dallas 80,281 114 100,968 115 89,192 115 107,868 116
NY New York City 90,032 127 112,588 129 99,702 128 120,124 130
Ontario Toronto 70,699 100 87,531 100 77,685 100 92,683 100
Ottawa 70,594 99 87,340 99 77,532 100 92,479 99
Kitchener-Waterloo 67,446 95 83,383 95 74,019 95 88,323 95
Source: Economic Research Institute, October 1, 2016
Notes: All values are in Canadian dollars, rounded to the nearest dollar
All data denotes the total compensation package, which include both salary and benefits.

In addition three key productions areas are less costly in Canada than other countries. Versus the U.S., software design is 22.1% less, electronics systems testing is 27.7% less and electronics assembly is 9.2% less.

Software Design

International Results (US = 100.0)
Industry: Software Design
Operation: Software Development
Country Cost Index
Canada 77.9
Netherlands 83.7
Australia 85.0
Italy 85.0
United Kingdom 87.9
Germany 88.9
Japan 90.1
France 90.8
United States 100.0
Source: KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016

Electronic Systems Development and Testing

International Results (US = 100.0)
Industry: Product Testing
Operation: Electronic Systems Development and Testing
Country Cost Index
Canada 72.2
Netherlands 73.1
Australia 77.2
France 78.6
Italy 78.6
Germany 81.8
Japan 85.6
United Kingdom 88.9
United States 100.0
Source: KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016

Electronics Assembly

International Results (US = 100.0)
Industry: Electronics
Operation: Electronics Assembly
Country Cost Index
Canada 90.8
Netherlands 91.2
Italy 91.5
Australia 92.1
United Kingdom 92.9
France 93.3
Germany 94.2
Japan 96.1
United States 100.0
Source: KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016


What do IT leaders say about running their businesses in Ontario?

A lot of industry leaders have experienced our business advantages firsthand. Find out what industry leaders have said about running their businesses in Ontario.


Chipworks are tech wizards who can take apart a smartphone and discover precisely whose patents are buried in the chipsets. It's called reverse engineering, and they are one of the most respected names in the business.

"Ninety-seven per cent of our business comes from exports," says Chipworks' Founder and CEO Terry Ludlow. "We're not here because our customers are here. We're here because it's a pretty good place to build a business."

OnX Enterprise Solutions

OnX Enterprise Solutions provides business with the latest in cloud applications.

"Clients look to us for skill sets to augment and leverage their in-house capacity," says Paul Khawaja, president of OnX Canada. "Frankly, Ontario is loaded with talent. The expertise and diversity available here has enabled us to expand both organically and through strategic acquisitions."


This market leader in Enterprise Information Management software and Canada's largest software company will carry out its key R&D work on cloud computing in Ontario by investing up to $2 billion in its Ontario operations, supported by a provincial grant of up to $120 million.

Mark Barrenechea, OpenText President and CEO, says, "We are an Ontario-grown global company and we chose to invest here because of the highly educated workforce, our strong university partnerships in R&D, as well as the province's robust and innovative start-up communities."


SAS Institute Inc.

SAS Institute is a world leader in data mining and analytics. "Ontario is the business hub of Canada," says Carl Farrell, president of SAS Canada. "If you're planning to do business in Canada, Ontario is the logical place to start."

SAS Canada has had great success collaborating with our post-secondary schools to create curricula that address the needs of the IT industry and ensure students are well trained to work in IT, says Mr. Farrell.

The IBM Research Centre

Like other leading IT companies that have operations in the province, IBM was drawn to Ontario for a host of reasons, not least of which is our robust and open R&D environment, generous R&D tax incentives, low business taxes and a quality of life that attracts and keeps top global talent.

At the IBM centre in Ontario, researchers at the universities of Toronto, Western Ontario, McMaster, Queen's, Ottawa, Waterloo and the Ontario Institute of Technology will focus on four specific areas: health care, water conservation and management, energy use and aging urban infrastructure.

Why did IBM choose Ontario for this one-of-a-kind cutting-edge research and development centre? "To start with, these are areas of great research strength in Ontario. That was key to our decision," says Pat Horgan, vice president of manufacturing, development and operations for IBM Canada and one of the driving forces behind the $210 million project in which IBM is investing $175 million. The Government of Ontario is contributing $15 million and the Government of Canada $20 million.


A concentration of world-renowned research institutes

One of the great advantages of doing IT in Ontario is access to some of the top researchers and institutes, who work collaboratively with businesses on innovative solutions.

An R&D hotspot

Major corporations such as Cisco, IBM and Xerox have set up major research centres here.

Select Ontario IT research centres and institutes


The following chart lists Ontario's world-renowned research institutes that work with business to discover solutions to today's challenges.

Examples of Ontario's world-renowned research institutes
Sector Organizations Region Institutes/Centres
Communications University of Toronto GTA Emerging Communications Technology Institute
Cryptography University of Waterloo Kitchener-Waterloo Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research
Geoinformatics University of Toronto GTA Centre for Geoinformatics
GIS Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre Sault Ste. Marie Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
Imaging University of Western Ontario London Biomedical Imaging Research Centre
Imaging University of Windsor Windsor Institute for Diagnostic Imaging Research
Learning Ryerson University GTA Centre for Learning Technologies
Microelectronics University of Toronto GTA Centre for Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging
Quantum Computing University of Waterloo Kitchener-Waterloo Institute of Quantum Computing
Semiconductors McMaster University Hamilton Centre for Emerging Device Technologies
Telecommunications Government of Canada Ottawa Communications Research Centre
Virtual Laboratory Queen's University Kingston High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory
Wireless Technologies University of Waterloo Kitchener-Waterloo Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems


Ontario's IT industry: a map of the leading tech hotspots

Ontario's IT industry is clustered located in three key cities: Ottawa, Toronto and Waterloo.


Use the map to explore our thriving IT industry clusters.


A great place to live

Recruiting top-notch talent is only part of the challenge. Retaining mobile, in-demand talent is just as vital. That's where our high quality of life can help you grow.

Enjoy our desirable quality of life

In all three IT clusters: Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area and Waterloo – and throughout Ontario – you'll find the kind of environment that's critical to attracting and retaining talent: great schools, affordable housing, organized sports, museums, theatres, fine dining and music of all kinds, excellent hospitals and a diversity of cultures that makes everyone feel at home.

  • We offer your employees the ideal balance of lifestyle, opportunity and an affordable cost of living.
  • Outdoor types will find great golf, great places to camp, hike, ski and skate.
  • Ontario also provides substantially more affordable healthcare and housing costs compared to many major U.S. cities.
Mercer 2015 Quality of Living Survey Index, Top Cities in North America
Rank City Country
5 Vancouver Canada
15 Toronto Canada
16 Ottawa Canada
24 Montreal Canada
27 San Francisco United States
33 Calgary Canada
34 Boston United States
36 Honolulu United States
43 Chicago United States
44 New York City United States
44 Seattle United States
Source: Mercer - Quality of Living, 2015


Generous R&D tax credits that give the best return on your investment

We're committed to driving the leading edge of IT, and we provide companies with powerful financial incentives that can cut costs dramatically.

Generous R&D tax credits

We offer some of the most generous innovation incentives in the world, working to reduce your after-tax cost of every $100 spent in R&D to between $61 and $37.

It's not surprising that KPMG's Competitive Alternatives 2014 ranked Canada ahead of most major industrialized countries in a comparison of R&D costs, citing a Canadian cost advantage of close to 15.8% over the U.S.

Our R&D tax incentive program is available to qualified businesses of any size and applies to a range of eligible costs that is broader than in the U.S. and many other countries. There is no cap on the program and tax credits can be carried back for three years or forward for 20 years.

More costs qualify for R&D tax incentives
  Ontario United States
Contract expenses 80% 65%
Source: Canada Revenue Agency and U.S. Internal Revenue Service, 2014

What other incentives are available?

You can also leverage incentive programs and services to help you lower the costs of training your employees. Programs include:

  • the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit, which offers you up to $40,000 in tax credits per apprentice, and
  • the Co-operative Education Tax Credit program, which generates a tax credit up to $3,000 per student placement.

Learn more about Ontario's incentive programs and services. Contact us to find out which programs best meet your business needs.

Industry Subsectors

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