Vancouver may not be the largest city in Canada, but it packs a mighty startup punch. The city has earned top rankings for its startup ecosystem, passion for green living and supporting a thriving job economy.
In this week’s installment of PYMNTS’ Weekly Tech Center Roundup, we head back to Canada to check out the growing tech landscape and why it’s become a magnet for top talent.
Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Vancouver and its tech scene:
- The estimated population of Vancouver is 610,000.
- Vancouver is home to three of Canada’s four tech unicorns – Slack, Hootsuite and Avigilon
- The city’s tech industry generates more than $23 billion in revenue and $15 billion in GDP
- Vancouver is considered a magnet for talent – with lower costs of doing business, affordable healthcare, tax incentives, and a growing network of accelerators and support for startups.
- The city was ranked as the No. 1 job creating economy in Canada and the top global startup system.
Vancouver is on its way to becoming a top tech hub in North America.
The city may be small, but many are starting to realize the tech powerhouse the city is developing into.
While it may not be as large as other tech hubs in Canada – namely Toronto, Ontario and Quebec – it has many unique advantages that’s helped it to become a magnet for tech talent.
The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) said one of the drivers of Vancouver’s deepening talent pool is that the city is home to some top post-secondary education options.
"Thanks to a first-class education system is graduating tomorrow's tech leaders and innovators from top-caliber institutions and specialty schools. Three of the top five ranked universities for software development in Canada are in the Vancouver area," the VEC told the Huffington Post British Columbia.
Not only does the city have a highly-regarded education system, but Vancouver has also gained recognition as a destination for both companies and individuals due to its low labor costs, tax incentives, low federal payroll taxes, affordable health care, capital gains benefits for non-residents, low utility costs and favorable taxation rates for companies and individuals.
Canada’s FinTech Jewel
John Pecman, Canada’s Commissioner of Competition, recently noted that there is a strong link between competition and innovation – noting that new disruptive technologies are challenging both traditional businesses and regulatory models.
“Competitive intensity fosters innovation”, the Commissioner said, pointing out that this competition drives companies to be better and fosters “competitive intensity.”
The prominence of FinTech across Canada has caught the attention of the bitcoin industry.
“The FinTech industry has done a great job at positioning Canada high up on the global scale,” Gerald Cotten, CEO of Canadian Bitcoin exchange Quadriga.CA, told Cryptocoins News. “We are quite thrilled to see how our country has been embracing this emerging industry and innovation. Lots of great minds that are following through with an execution.”
Vancouver specifically has attracted much of the bitcoin energy in the country, Cryptocoins News reported, with an estimated 21 bitcoin ATMs in the city alone.
Vancouver Catches Microsoft’s Eye
Just last week, Microsoft opened up its Excellence Center – a facility aimed at building advanced products for the global market, injecting millions into the local economy and growing the region’s talent pool – right in Vancouver.
“Vancouver is a terrific place for development,” Edoardo De Martin, director of Microsoft Vancouver, told Business Review USA & Canada. “It is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, has a growing tech ecosystem, offers access to great computer science talent from local universities, contains a diverse workforce, and it’s close to Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Redmond.”
The center intends to bring together talented Canadians in hopes of showcasing and utilizing their skills to further the development of future technologies. It’s estimated that Microsoft Vancouver will bring more than 750 jobs to the local area and may inject more than $90 million in direct investments to the city each year.
“We’re also continuing to bring talented people together to collaborate and innovate. We’re hiring across all teams and have an internship program that brings 50 students per year from top Canadian universities to Vancouver for an entrepreneurial program that empowers them to build apps from the ground up,” De Martin said.
“Our hope is that Microsoft Vancouver will help the global organization continue to expand its development presence in the city,” he concludes. “The center will serve as an engine for technological innovation, drawing on talent, entrepreneurs and innovators to create product breakthroughs while contributing to Vancouver’s tech ecosystem.”