"There is an army of entrepreneurs in Ontario that are determined to leverage every resource they can get their hands on to be successful," says Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech in Waterloo. Decades of investment in developing world-renowned educational institutions and research centres is now paying dividends in the form of unrivalled entrepreneurial assets with which to achieve success. In fact, Klugman believes the Toronto-Waterloo corridor already has many of the essential ingredients for building 'a Silicon Valley-like innovation super ecosystem' in Canada.

The Toronto-Waterloo corridor comprises nearly half of Ontario's population (about 6 million people) and is an integral part of North America's second largest ICT cluster (next to California). The corridor is home to 30% of Canada's university students and 21% of the country's population, according to Klugman. Moreover, it has helped Ontario improve from 14th to eighth in attraction of venture capital, while capturing more foreign capital investment than any other North American jurisdiction for the past two years.

Ingredients contributing to Ontario's entrepreneurial success

For those not yet convinced, consider the following factors that have led to Ontario's successful development of North America's second largest ICT cluster:

  • Influence: Toronto is as influential a city as L.A. or San Francisco according to Forbes
  • Business climate: Canada ranks second in the world for 'best countries for business' according to Bloomberg
  • Talent: Canada is the best place in the world for youth talent according to World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • Quality of life: Toronto and Waterloo are continually recognized as among the best cities in the world to work, live and invest‎
  • Scaling up: Waterloo alone has produced five $1 billion+ valuated companies, including OpenText and Kik.
  • Education: Ontario has the highest post-secondary education attainment of any OECD country
  • Entrepreneurship: Canada is a top location for entrepreneurs and ranks first for 'entrepreneurial ability' according to the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute
  • Cost-effectiveness: With a competitive corporate tax rate and generous R&D incentives, Ontario is home to the lowest overall business costs in the G7

Now, Ontario is looking to accelerate the success of its early stage technology companies through strategic investments in infrastructure and support programs. Funding programs include the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund‎, the Ontario Venture Capital Fund‎, the Innovation Accelerator Fund and the Angel Network Program. With increasing interest of private investors from within Canada and abroad, Ontario's start-ups are fuelling the province's progress toward becoming a powerhouse for technology commercialization.

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September 15, 2015

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