This is the special edition of the Waterloo EDC “5 Charts: Waterloo Versus” series that compares our community with some of America’s top tech hubs.

We’re pretty convinced that Waterloo is a world-class tech hub. It’s not just the fact that we’re North America’s fastest growing emerging tech talent market, or that we are home to Canada’s best technology university, or that Google is investing heavily in their Waterloo-based engineering headquarters or even that we’re home to Canada’s three fastest-growing tech companies

No, we’re convinced because we’ve seen the data.

In head-to-head comparisons with some of America’s top tech hubs we’re exceptionally competitive.

To demonstrate, we’ve picked three of the USA’s most renowned tech ecosystems – Austin, Boston and Silicon Valley – for a direct comparison. Here’s what we found:

Round One: Tech Talent Density

Share of Tech Employment Cropped

No one is surprised that the Bay Area comes out on top. It is the world’s premier tech hub. What might surprise you is that Waterloo is a strong second place. We have is one of the highest-density tech talent ecosystems in North America and also one of the fastest-growing with 51% workforce growth over the last five years.

Round Two: Startup Density

Startups Per Capita Cropped

Again, the Bay Area comes out on top. Again, Waterloo is second (though Austin is a close third-place). In Waterloo, this density is due largely to our phenomenal post-secondary institutes – the University of Waterloo alone accounts for more than 18% of ALL Canadian tech founders – and our collection of accelerators, incubators and hubs. We’re home to Canada’s most productive incubator (Velocity), Canada’s #1 privateaccelerator (The Accelerator Centre) and Canada’s top innovation hub (Communitech).

Don’t be fooled by our startup success, though – this community also has large-scale tech offices representing some of the world’s largest companies, including Google, SAP, Shopify and Ford.

Round Three: Research Output Density

Research Output Cropped

This chart really highlights how incredible our research output is when you consider the relatively small size of our community. Not only is our tech talent and startup density world-class, but so is our research density.

If we went with total research output, Waterloo would fall behind all three comparison communities, but that’s really an issue of scale. We have three post-secondary institutes and the Bay Area, for example, has dozens. That said, our numbers are still almost equivalent to what you’d find in Austin. This is probably a good time to point out that there are another 16 universities and colleges within about 105km/65mi of Waterloo.

Round Four: Rent

Rent Cropped

Well, Waterloo wins here. Our commercial rent costs are half those of Austin and Boston. They’re one-fifth the costs you’ll find in the Bay Area.

Finding that perfect working space for a reasonable price is a daunting task in most communities and especially in over-heated tech markets. In Waterloo you can get a great space, in the heart of the action, at a fraction of the cost.

Round Five: Tech Salaries

Tech Salaries Cropped

It’s all Waterloo here, too. Quality of tech talent and significant cost advantages are central to the Waterloo value proposition. In fact, CBRE’s 2019 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent ranked Waterloo 1st in Canada for tech talent quality to cost.

Waterloo’s lower cost of living is the driver here. In 2019, CBRE listed Waterloo’s average apartment rental rate as approximately $150US/month lower than Austin, $1000US/month lower than Boston and $1700US/month lower than the Bay Area. On average, households in Waterloo spend $3700/year less on healthcare than households in Austin, $4600/year less than households in Boston and $6600/year less than households in San Jose. You can do more living for less money in Canada’s fastest growing community.

The numbers speak for themselves.

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