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Move Over Bay Street: Toronto's Burgeoning Tech Scene Is Taking Over

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For a city that's been consistently defined as playing host to the country's largest financial sector, Toronto is experiencing somewhat of a tech renaissance.

Toronto is showing signs of the city coming into its own as a global technology hub. More firms are making the move to Hogtown, and the city is also turning out its fair share of hometown heroes when it comes to successful tech companies.

So, what is making Toronto such a coveted destination for tech companies and eager employees alike? Between a deep talent pool and a high saturation of top-notch tech firms, the city has plenty to brag about.

Toronto's Tech Scene: An Evolution

While downtown Toronto has served as a major economic powerhouse for Canada since it was founded, it's traditionally known for being the home of Bay Street and the country's major financial sector.

But in the last few years, Toronto has become home to the most prolific saturation of tech companies in the country. According to Invest Toronto, almost half (40 per cent) of the top 250 technology companies in Canada are headquartered in Toronto. Not only is the city the largest tech hub in Canada, it's also third in all of North America -- only playing second fiddle to Silicon Valley and New York.

Although Canada's top tech unicorns (those companies with valuations at $1 billion or more) aren't headquartered here, major players like Kik, Shopify, and HootSuite have offices in Hogtown. And major local players such as Influitive, Wattpad, and EventMobi are becoming household names thanks to solid product offerings and renowned corporate cultures.

Such a reputation is spurring other tech firms to open offices in Toronto, like Slack's recent announcement that the messenger platform will be hiring 145 for its newest location in the Big Smoke.

In addition to the bevy of Canadian-grown companies, many of Silicon Valley's heavy hitters have satellite offices in Toronto. Major players like Google, Facebook and Microsoft all have offices in downtown Toronto. Currently, approximately 168,000 people work at more than 15,000 technology companies in the GTA, generating approximate annual revenues of $52 billion -- not too shabby.

And while these companies dot much of the Greater Toronto Area, the most noticeable concentration of tech offices is in the King West neighbourhood. Dozens of tech firms roost in this dense neighbourhood, and the area will only continue to grow since "Canada's technology companies are the country's largest investors in [research and development], averaging $5.7 billion annually, with over $640 million invested in software alone," according to Invest Toronto.

Upstart entrepreneurs and "started-up" tech firms alike also have access to the tools they need in Toronto. With a wealth of co-working spaces to nurture young companies (think BrightLane and WorkPlaceOne), famed startup incubators like the MaRS Discovery District and Ryerson's DMZ, and plenty of events and networking opportunities have cultivated a tightly knit community that's on track to grow and flourish.

A Deep Talent Pool

In addition to a high proliferation of top technology companies sprouting up around the city, Toronto also boasts a deep talent pool.

As the largest city in Canada, Toronto is home to a diverse population replete with professionals who speak a variety of languages and come from an assortment of backgrounds. Such a diverse workforce is an advantage to employers across sectors, technology or otherwise.

It also helps that some of the country's top universities, like the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo's famed engineering program, call Greater Toronto home. This high concentration of some of the country's best universities and post-secondary educational programs has helped turn out an educated workforce. According to Invest Toronto data, more than half the workforce has earned a bachelor degree or higher.

And the same data shows that more than half (57 per cent) of the city's workforce is under the age of 45. This young, talented working population has helped make the city ripe for a growing, enthusiastic tech community.

For those students eager to get started, Toronto also hosts a number bootcamp-style schools that specialize in technology courses. Renowned schools like BrainStation offer a bevy of immersive courses that prepare students for careers in development, design, digital marketing, and other tech areas in just a few weeks rather than a few years.

A lot of these coding schools also offer quick-and-dirty weekend workshops and evening programs for casual students who simply want to learn new skills and brush up on new technologies. This ensures the tech workforce in Toronto stays up-to-date with the ever-evolving tech field.

A Final Word

It's impossible to deny: Toronto is a great place to be if you're in tech.
And as the field blossoms and evolve, it seems that Toronto's burgeoning tech community will continue to grow as well.

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