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article imageCanada's biggest economic hurdle is keeping technology talent

By Karen Graham     Sep 17, 2017 in Technology
Ontario - Mike Lazaridis, the former chief executive officer of BlackBerry Ltd, has added his voice to the growing number of people saying Canada’s main economic hurdle is keeping technology talent.
"The biggest challenge as a country is retaining and recruiting the best people to build industries in Canada and not lose them to other jurisdictions," said Lazaridis, who left Blackberry in 2013, at the Waterloo Innovation Summit.
In June, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a good move in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump immigration policies, seizing on the opportunity and offering fast-track visas to high-skilled workers and increasing funding for innovation.
Trudeau said on June 12 that only firms growing 10 percent to 20 percent can make use of a new program that brings high-skilled foreign workers into the country in as little as two weeks, effectively guaranteeing the approvals for the tech sector.
US President Donald Trump is seeking to put in place a "merit-based" immigration system  w...
US President Donald Trump is seeking to put in place a "merit-based" immigration system, with a preference for English speakers
JIM WATSON, AFP
Since then, Ottawa has stepped up recruitment efforts, targeting expatriates in the U.S. And recently, Toronto and it's surrounding cities submitted a regional bid for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. And that is a big deal.
Canada at the forefront of development of quantum computers
Lazaridis sees Canada as being at the forefront of development in quantum computers, a technology that will harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks, reports Bloomberg. Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and IBM are all pursuing ambitions in the field.
Lazaridis is the co-founder of Waterloo-based Quantum Valley Investments. They focus on the commercialization of breakthrough technologies in Quantum Information Science. They provide funding, expertise and support for researchers that develop breakthroughs leading to commercial technologies and applications.
Photograph of a chip constructed by D-Wave Systems Inc. designed to operate as a 128-qubit supercond...
Photograph of a chip constructed by D-Wave Systems Inc. designed to operate as a 128-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum optimization processor, mounted in a sample holder.
D-Wave Systems, Inc.
"The quantum computer is the holy grail, probably one of the most disruptive things to happen to humanity," Lazaridis, 56, said. "Not only will the second quantum revolution impact all technology and industries, but it will transform our lives because it will give us a basic insight of how nature works. Every time man has discovered how nature works, he has bent the curve of history."
Toronto, Canada is on Amazon's "short-list" of sites
There is a really big reason why Amazon's search for a city to host its second headquarters is such a big deal. Just think of Seattle, Washington, where its first headquarters is located. The company employs 40,000 people and has added $38 billion in investments to the local economy.
Amazon is promising the host of HQ2 50,000 new jobs (many paid at six-figure salaries), $5 billion in initial city investment, and at least eight million square feet of development. And never say Amazon is not looking to help out a city that could also use an economic and labor boost. That's enough to make any city official's mouth water. And Toronto certainly meets Amazon's base criteria.
A new report from CBRE shows that Toronto is the fastest-growing tech market in North America.
A new report from CBRE shows that Toronto is the fastest-growing tech market in North America.
Besides having at least one million people, Amazon requires aviation access (international is a plus), a talented workforce (bolstered by proximity to a university), tax incentives (“how much do you want us?”) and space to fit the approximately 8 million square feet Amazon requires to house this massive operation.
And Toronto would be a good choice, in this writer's humble opinion. In July, Toronto was named North America’s fastest-growing tech city by the commercial real estate firm CBRE CBRE's metrics focused on factors such as supply, growth, and concentration of available tech talent, the number of completed tech degrees, and apartment rent cost growth.
More about Canada, technology talent, commocitydriven market, Justin trudeau, Amazon