Destination Ontario: Silicon Valley of the North
Silicon Valley. To many, these words represent industry, innovation, investment, technology companies, students, graduates, and money. Known as "…the largest innovation corridor in the world,” warm Californian breezes and palm trees may also enter the equation. But replace the latter with temperate values and green fields, and you have the future of Canadian manufacturing.
Silicon Valley. To many, these words represent industry, innovation, investment, technology companies, students, graduates, and money. Known as "...the largest innovation corridor in the world," warm Californian breezes and palm trees may also enter the equation. But replace the latter with temperate values and green fields, and you have the future of Canadian manufacturing.
Welcome to Southern Ontario, the "Silicon Valley of the North."
The similarities are overwhelming. Both are connected by a single highway, feature an abundance of skilled workers, and host commerce capitals and technological innovation hubs. Silicon Valley employs nearly 380,000 technology workers along its Highway 101. Similarly, 280,000 are employed in Silicon Valley (of the North) along Highway 401, which links Toronto's commerce with Waterloo's technology hub. This region in Southern Ontario, home to nearly 1,000 companies, generates over $30 billion annually to the international economy. Yes. Over $30 billion. This ideal balance of financial backing and innovation – identical to California's Silicon Valley setup – is building the future of innovation in Ontario. In fact, Startup Genome ranked Waterloo "...16th among the world's 20 global startup hubs" in 2013.
Mark J. Barrenechea, President and CEO of OpenText Corporation, shares three factors to ensure Ontario's continued innovation success in The Globe and Mail.
The level of innovative talent in Southern Ontario is staggering. Nearly 60% of Canadian innovation happens here in technology think-tanks, government agencies, academic organizations, and multinational corporations. "Silicon Valley of the North" offers an all-access pass to key competitive resources: a highly skilled workforce, community liaisons, and research and development. These factors prompted Barrenechea to work with the Ontario Government to invest $2 billion – and create 1,200 new jobs. And since one technology-focused job creates five service jobs, typically in emerging communities that support this industrious growth, the continuous benefits are clear.
Capital is another key to Southern Ontario's innovation success – and there is no shortage. Various funding initiatives support technology innovation and entrepreneurship, supported by the Federal Government's Venture Capital Action Plan program. One funding program, a public-private partnership consisting of $217 million, offers investment into a Venture Capital Fund which assists start-up companies. Canada's Venture Capital And Private Equity Association provided $2 billion of investment in 2013 – the highest amount since 2007.
Some say attitude is everything. And in Southern Ontario, where entrepreneurs continue to develop technological innovation, a "yes-we-can" stance is a mandate for success – of their business, the region, and the province. While risks are necessary to achieve innovation perfection, any estimation of failure fades considerably when groups of similar companies share their knowledge. Financial risks even diminish. Backed by the region's vast benefits, a recipe for success is easily manufactured.
Technological innovation is a key to the successful future of Southern Ontario. Its far-reaching benefits influence the region's communities and industries, not the least of which is manufacturing. With improved processes and time and cost savings, a result of innovative perceptions and technology (such as the promising future of 3D printing mentioned in our previous blog), the possibilities are limitless.
Welcome to innovation. Welcome to "Silicon Valley of the North." Welcome to Southern Ontario.