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article imageMaRS Discovery District — Proof Toronto's tech sector is growing

By Karen Graham     Jul 10, 2018 in Technology
Toronto - Just a few years ago Canada’s biggest science and technology incubator, MaRS, had to be bailed out by the Ontario government. But today, the tech incubator has so many companies clamoring for space it may have to look for a second office.
MaRS Discovery District houses companies like Airbnb Inc. and Merck & Co, along with hundreds of entrepreneurs - all focusing on four main tech sectors: energy and environment (Cleantech), finance and commerce (FinTech), health, and work and learning.
Toronto's cultural and economic diversity has fueled the city's rapid growth in a number of high-tech areas, including artificial intelligence. And according to AdWeek, an influx of talent and capital, combined with public-private programs, has helped Toronto become an AI hub for innovation ranging from the retail sector to healthcare.
The growth of the tech sector in Toronto is the reason behind MaRS' quest to find additional office space, according to people familiar with the matter, reports the Financial Post. But a representative for MaRS didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Mars Discovery District (1911)
Mars Discovery District (1911)
Max Metzler
In March this year, MaRS did a survey of over 100 tech companies in the Toronto area and found that 53 percent of respondents saw more international applicants in 2017 over 2016. The majority of new international hires were from the U.S., followed by India, China, and Brazil.
MaRS said the majority of the companies cited immigration reform, including the federal government’s new global skills strategy that can expedite visas, as a key factor influencing their competitiveness.
MaRS sees a dramatic turnaround
It is really hard to believe that in 2014, MaRS was struggling to find occupants to fill its empty offices in the city’s hospital district. The Ontario government had to step in with funding after its previous backer ran into financial difficulties. But now most of that loan has been paid off.
MaRS Discovery District -- bio-technology research centre  College Street  Toronto  Canada
MaRS Discovery District -- bio-technology research centre, College Street, Toronto, Canada
Bradley Woods -
MaRS currently houses over 150 tenants and 6,000 workers, with two-thirds of those spots used by startups. The tech incubator rents out space to corporations and also acts as a central hub for capital funding, startup generation, and research expertise — with a goal of turning innovation into commercial success.
All this is just one example of Canada's growing tech sector. Venture capital and private equity funding grew by 11 percent last year to a record $3.5 billion. We can also add that the recent AI brain gain in Toronto came about through a convergence between the city’s academic, government and corporate sectors in fostering a nurturing atmosphere.
One particularly exciting piece of news that bolsters Toronto's being center-stage is that a huge tech conference is moving its show to Toronto in 2019. Paddy Cosgrave, the co-founder of Web Summit, is moving its Collision conference from New Orleans to Toronto.
high technology businesses supported by Quantum Valley Investment Fund.
high technology businesses supported by Quantum Valley Investment Fund.
Quantum Valley Investments
The Irish entrepreneur had been looking at San Francisco for the new location of what he says is the fastest-growing tech conference in North America with more than 25,000 attendees last year. But with the huge increase in venture funding seen in Toronto last year, it was easy for him to make a choice.
As the Collision website says: "Our host cities have always had a big impact on our conferences and we’re excited to show you what Toronto has to offer. From its diverse population to its position as an AI torch-bearer, there is a lot going on in Toronto’s startup scene. See you in Toronto in 2019."
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