Toronto is the largest, most dynamic and innovative hub of technology-focused businesses in Canada. The 14,600-plus tech establishments located in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) employ about 159,000 people. The Toronto CMA is home to 35% of the nation's technology businesses, making it Canada’s centre for technology research and development. This sector continues to see growth and high employment.
There are 14,600 technology establishments operating in the Toronto CMA, including 586 manufacturing establishments and 14,010 service establishments (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013). Of the top 250 Canadian ICT companies listed on the 2014 Branham300, 37% are located in the Toronto CMA.
- 4 of the 10 fastest growing ICT companies in Canada are located in the Toronto CMA (Branham300, 2014).
- The backbone of the technology sector in the Toronto region is its telecommunication infrastructure. The telecommunications subsector employs one in five people in the Toronto CMA. Home to 2 of the 3 largest telecommunications companies in Canada as well as to smaller service providers, Toronto is connected by sophisticated high speed networks.
- The largest data centre in Canada, a 400,000 sq. ft. facility, is located in downtown Toronto. ("Canada called prime real estate for massive data computers" - Globe and Mail, June 22, 2011).
- Canada is the second-best place in the world to house the massive computers needed to run corporate networks and Internet sites - Data Centre Risk Index, 2011 ("Canada called prime real estate for massive data computers" - Globe and Mail, June 22, 2011).
The technology sector in Toronto has expanded in recent years and continues to grow as top-notch talent is attracted to the city.
- Three of the world's biggest social networking sites – LinkedIn, Facebook Canada and Twitter Canada – established their Canadian head offices in Toronto. Opportunities for thought leadership, knowledge sharing, partnerships and new start-ups will increase.
- Based on total Twitter users, Toronto earned a sixth-place ranking on the Top Twitter Cities of the World by Socialmediatoday.com, April 2010.
- Social Media Week a global platform that connects people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media, is held in Toronto annually, along with mesh – Canada’s Web Conference.
- Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is using social media to enhance its programming and now has the largest Facebook fan base of any cultural event in Canada.
- Toronto is taking a leadership role in the digital world with respect to consumer privacy. Researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab are monitoring and exposing overseas cyberspy rings, including major ones in India and China. Founded in 2000, Citizen Lab, together with Harvard and Cambridge universities, takes part in a group called the OpenNet Initiative, or ONI, which calls attention to Internet filtering around the world.
- Toronto is home to one of the world's biggest clusters of mobile-application companies in North America
- Google Canada also has its office in the heart of downtown Toronto
- The technology cluster in Toronto and the surrounding region come together annually to celebrate technology as an engine of economic growth at events such as Technicity.
- Toronto tech companies reported combined revenue of more than $52 billion in 2009, with $21.8 billion in the manufacturing subsector and $30.4 billion in the services sector (OneSource, 2009).
- 96% of all technology establishments in Toronto are classified as service-oriented, including communications providers, software developers and consulting (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013).
- Manufacturing establishments account for about 4% of the total technology establishments in Toronto (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013).
- There are 44 large service establishments (500+ employees) in the Toronto CMA and 5 large manufacturing establishments (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013).
- The majority (78%) of tech establishments are micro-enterprises with 1 to 4 employees (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013)
- 37% of the Top 250 Canadian ICT companies as ranked by Branham Group Inc. are headquartered in Toronto (Branham300, 2014).
- The 2012 Start-up Genome project ranked Toronto 4th in the World's Top Ten Hubs.
- Modis, a global provider of IT staffing services, ranked Toronto the second best city in which to look for IT jobs among the top 12 cities in North America in 2012 – ahead of San Francisco, New York and Boston.
Note: The Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) definition of Toronto is used as the base geography.
- There are 586 tech manufacturing establishments (4% of total tech establishments) in Toronto CMA (see Table 1)
- The top manufacturing subsector by number of established businesses is Measuring, Medical and Controlling Devices with 154 establishments (26% of total manufacturing sector establishments) (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013)
- The top manufacturing subsector by revenue is Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing at about $12.4 billion (56% of total manufacturing sector revenue) (OneSource, includes all tech companies in Toronto CMA, 2009)
- The tech sector consists of 14,010 services establishments (96% of tech establishments) in the Toronto CMA. The majority (80%) of services establishments are micro-enterprises with 1 to 4 employees (see Table 2)
- Leading the tech services subsector by number of established businesses is the Computer Systems Design and Related Services subsector. The 11,000 establishments in this subsector represent 79% of the total establishments in the services sector (Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013)
- The top subsector by total revenue is Wireless Telecommunications Carriers, collectively reporting revenue of $22 billion (72% of total services sector revenue) (OneSource, includes all Tech companies in Toronto CMA, 2009)
|Number of Employees||Manufacturing Establishments||% of Total Manufacturing||Total Establishments||% of Total|
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013
|Number of Employees||Services Establishments||% of Total Services||Total Establishments||% of Total|
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Business Patterns, Dec. 2013
Gameloft, a publisher and developer of downloadable video games, has opened a digital gaming studio in Toronto that is expected to create more than 200 jobs. Gameloft’s Toronto facility will help create digital games designed specifically for smartphones, iPhones, iPads, as well as social networks. Gameloft Canada, a subsidiary of France’s Gameloft S.A., has established partnerships with licensors including UNO, Ferrari, Shrek, CSI, Spiderman and Iron Man.
Ubisoft, a French-owned company with a global presence, opened a Toronto studio in 2012. Ubisoft draws resources from the local pool of game development talent and forges relationships with the city's bustling film industry.
The critical mass of talent and growing number of experienced developers has helped Toronto become a successful mobile application development hub. Mobile development camps, incubators for mobile start-ups, and investments in Toronto mobile firm mean that mobile companies continue to thrive here.
The Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC) recently released a study, Mobile Innovation: Ontario's Growing Mobile Content, Services, and Applications Industry 2012 [ PDF ]. The report found that:
- Ontario, and within it the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), is a centre of activity for mobile application developments, and it is expected to see continued growth over the next five years. Companies such as Google have significantly increased their presence in the area and companies interviewed and surveyed were positive about the future of the industry
- The majority of mobile content, services, and application companies in Ontario are located in the Greater Toronto Area
- Toronto is one of the world's biggest clusters of mobile applications other than Silicon Valley, with an estimated 200 mobile-application developers and more than 750 companies with mobile-content offerings (Wall Street Journal, Toronto Becoming A Hub For Mobile-Applications Companies, July 23, 2010)
- In terms of the product and services created and offered by Ontario's mobile producers, application development is by far the most popular endeavour, followed by content provision
- Most enterprises are small- and medium-sized (less than 12 full-time employees). Almost all mobile companies have been in operations for less than 10 years – the average number of years that organizations have been in business is 4.42 years
- A vast majority (89%) of mobile companies in Ontario are 100% Canadian-owned
- 91% of the organizations operating in the Ontario/GTA mobile content production sector are private entities. A small percentage (9%) is public – meaning that the public owns that entities either through the purchases of shares or through ownership by the Canadian government
- The sector is globally oriented, with more than half of the companies (53%) in the mobile industry in Ontario engaged in export activities – mostly within North America, followed by Europe and Australia/New Zealand
- International Data Corporation (IDC) Canada predicts that some $6 billion will be spent on mobile devices in 2012 in Canada
- A critical component of many financing plans is a tax credit, which accounts for 22% of operating revenue for those companies that claim them. However, the majority (64%) of tax credits claimed by mobile companies are Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) credits. These tax credits represent $1.5 million out of a reported $15.25 million in expenses from these organizations, of which 72% were wages-based expenses ($11 million)
Table 3: Top 10 Canadian-owned technology companies headquartered in Toronto, by revenue
|Rogers Communications (wireless and Internet)||8,391,580|
|Procom Consultants Group||708,275|
|OnX Enterprise Solutions||698,000|
|D+H (Financial Technology & Services)||561,898|
Source: Branham300, 2014
Top Internationally Owned Technology Companies with a Presence in Toronto
- IBM Canada
- HP Canada
- Microsoft Canada
- Cisco Systems Canada
- Oracle Canada
- Honeywell Canada
- SAP Canada
- Xerox Canada
- Wipro Technologies
- Nokia Canada
- ADP Canada
- CDW Canada
- Randstad Technologies
- Pitney Bowes Canada
- Symantec Canada
- CA Technologies Canada
- TEKsystems Canada
- DST Systems Canada
(Source: Branham300, 2014)
A diverse workforce and educational infrastructure are key to Toronto's competitive position in this sector. The local labour pool is broad and deep, meeting the needs of tech employers across a range of manufacturing and service subsectors.
Toronto's technology sector employs more than 159,000 workers – 55% of the tech workers in Ontario and 26% of all tech workers in Canada (Labour Force Survey, 2013). This figure does not include technology workers who are employed in other sectors, such as financial services.
Toronto's technology sector is an essential enabler and economic driver of all other sectors of Toronto's economy, including financial services, life sciences, renewable energy, film and television, digital media, and manufacturing. A study by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) shows that more than 49% of the total number of ICT workers in Canada's Financial Services sector are located in Toronto CMA. In comparison, 9.4% are located in Montreal CMA and 6.6% are in Vancouver CMA (ICTC – ICT in the Financial Services Sector).
ICTC's 2011-2016 Outlook report predicts that Canadian employers will need to hire more than 106,000 ICT workers by 2016 to meet labour demands (ICTC – ICT in the Financial Services Sector).
- Technology-related occupations in other sectors total more than 89,000 employees in Toronto CMA (Statistics Canada, 2006 Census)
- Average tech wages of $64,600 are $16,900 above the Toronto average wage in 2013. This does not include self-employment income (Labour Force Survey, 2013)
- The sector has a young workforce – 57.4% of tech workers are under 45 years of age (Labour Force Survey, 2013)
- In 2013, the sector had high levels of educational attainment: 78.4% of the tech labour force had a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, compared with 66.5% for the general labour force (Labour Force Survey, 2013)
- The technology sector labour force has an international composition, with business and personal linkages to nearly every country of the world
Toronto is home to four prominent universities. The largest three, University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University, offer a wide range of specializations in computer sciences programs, including computer systems and game design.
- In the 2011/2012 academic year, a total of 2,559 full-time students were enrolled in a computer sciences program, with 85% in undergraduate programs, 7% in master's programs, and 8% in doctoral programs
- The number of students enrolled in master's and doctoral programs as a percentage of total full-time enrolment in computer sciences program increased from 5% in the 1999/2000 academic year to 15% in the 2011/2012 academic year
- Times Higher Education ranked the University of Toronto 22nd in the Top 100 Universities for Engineering and Technology in 2013/2014 (among universities in 450 global cities)
- There are more than 470 faculty members in teaching and research positions in ICT and related technologies programs at Toronto’s three largest universities
- The newly established OCAD University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) – the latter located within the Greater Toronto Area in Oshawa – are emerging to deliver several niche tech-related programs in mobile, cryptology and security, and game development
- A number of certificates, diplomas and applied degrees in technology and related programs are offered to prospective students: software systems, computer engineering technician, health informatics technology, computer animation, enterprises database management.
- Toronto's college programs are exceptionally popular, drawing 5,935 students in the 2011/2012 academic year (See Table 4)
Source: Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
- 43% of Canada's tech sector R&D investment is conducted by Toronto technology research facilities – $5.7 billion annually, including $650 million in software alone (Source: Invest in Canada)
- Companies with Toronto-based research facilities or headquarter operations invested over $2.5 billion in R&D in 2009 (Research Infosource Inc.)
- The Ontario and Canadian governments' R&D tax incentives can cut after-tax research costs by up to 64%
- Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
IRAP provides assistance to commercialize pre-approved projects through technical and business advisory services, as well as financial assistance to small- and medium-size businesses.
- Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund (OETF)
The OETF will co-invest ( with qualified venture capital funds and other private investors) directly into companies working within the focus areas defined by Ontario’s Innovation Agenda.
- Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC)
The OIDMTC is a refundable tax credit based on eligible Ontario labour expenditures and eligible marketing and distribution expenses claimed by a qualifying corporation with respect to interactive digital media products.
- Toronto is ranked 11th in the Innovation Cities Top 100 Index (2012/2013) of the global innovation economy (2thinknow).
- Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
- Ontario Media Development Corporation
The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), is an agency of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is the central catalyst for the province’s cultural media cluster including book publishing, film and television, interactive digital media, magazine publishing, and music industries.
- Ontario Technology Corridor (OTC)
The OTC is a geographic region situated in the heart of Canada’s most urban, highly educated and dynamic province. The OTC is a dedicated organization for technology companies considering relocating to or expanding in Ontario.
- Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)
The OCE helps entrepreneurs move from research to commercialization in Ontario. The purpose of the OCE is to support economically relevant R&D, opening new market opportunities and aid in the commercialization of new technologies. The OCE builds strong industry and academic relationships, stimulating the transfer of knowledge from bright minds to the market.
Related organizations/ associations
- CATA WIT (Women in Technology)
- fitc - Future. Innovation. Technology. Creativity
- Information Communication & Technology Council
- Information Technology Association of Canada
- Interactive Ontario
- International Game Developers Association
- IT World Canada
- MESH Conference
- Ontario Ministry of Economic Development
- Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation