Ontario plans to become the world’s top technology hub

Ontario is home to about 40 percent of Canada’s population and accounts for 48 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product. It’s the fourth-largest population center in North America, after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles, and it produces more cars than any other region in North America, including Michigan. Ontario also has the Americas’ second-biggest financial services sector, after New York.

Ontario is North America’s second-leading cluster for technology companies, after California, and has the third-largest concentration of life sciences companies on the continent.

The Ontario government has invested $3.6 billion in those sectors, primarily, over the last decade, with two-thirds going to research and development, and one-third focused on building the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

An hour’s drive from Toronto, Waterloo is a city of 98,000 that saw more than 500 startups take root in 2012.

Ontario’s 44 universities produce about 30,000 computer science and engineering graduates each year, a steady flow of new talent for the province’s startups as well as established IT, life sciences, and aerospace companies.
By contrast, California — a state with about three times the population of Ontario — produces only 21,000 STEM graduates per year.

Toronto currently ranks eighth on the Startup Genome’s list of global startup ecosystems, just above another Canadian technology hub, Vancouver. Tiny Waterloo ranks 16th with its population of just under 100,000, bringing to mind Tel Aviv, the super-fertile startup ecosystem of 400,000 people that currently holds third place.

In addition, Ontario officials quietly let me know that they believe Ottawa would have won a spot in the top 20 as well, if Startup Genome had analyzed the data just a bit differently. That would, of course, have given Ontario three cities in the global top 20.

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