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article imageToronto's booming technology center

By Tim Sandle     Feb 2, 2018 in Technology
Toronto - Toronto's booming technology scene is threatening the economic power of some of more established parts of the U.S. A number of reports chart the continued rise of Canadian innovation.
The origins of the Toronto technology scene began with, according to The Crunch network, the opening of the MaRS Discovery District in 2005 (MaRS Discovery District is a not-for-profit corporation). This is a 1.5-million-square-foot complex located in Toronto’s downtown, and it fast became an arena for entrepreneurs to learn skills via an associated venture program. This laid the foundations for an economic boom, especially in relation to medical and healthcare technologies.
A sign of the boom is the shortage and cost of office space in the city, where rents for top grade office space surged 11 percent to $30.96 (Canadian) per square foot towards the end of 2017.
Picture of Canada s financial district
Picture of Canada's financial district
Public sector investment
In the past five years the technology scene in Toronto has expanded rapidly. This is the outcome of the policies of the Canadian government, which has sought to lay the foundations for a startup ecosystem. This has been developed through government aid, which has been made available to small businesses.
Support has also come from the City Council. As an example, Toronto City Council voted in February 2018 to invite the public to make deputations to the City Executive on in March, about why and how blockchain technology and new cryptocurrencies can be integrated into the way the city does business.
Universities and investment
There are other reasons too for Toronto's burgeoning technology scene. According to Toronto Life, Canadian schools are producing the next generation of well educated and technology savvy young people (especially the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo); the continent’s richest venture capitalists are flooding local companies with cash for innovations; and there is a startup boom, in terms of the vast number of companies attempting to develop the next must-have consumer product or item that can be one day mass produced for other businesses.
Picture of Toronto s financial district.
Picture of Toronto's financial district.
Startups
Examples of leading start-ups based in Toronto are Kik Messenger, which is a mobile chat application that preserves the anonymity of users, such as a registration system that doesn’t require a telephone number for login; and Figure 1, which is a smartphone app designed for healthcare professionals, enabling them to share and comment upon medical cases as well as graphic medical images. A further example is Freshbooks, which is an app that provides small businesses with the opportunity to balance their books and keep track of their finances, like billing, invoices, and expenses.
With startups, Toronto Life has run a feature that provides quotes from several startup company founders and leaders, which extol the advantages and benefits of the city:
“World-class talent and living standards in a (relatively) affordable city” (Hongwei Liu, MappedIn)
“A safe community that embraces people’s differences, rather than managing them "(Ben Baldwin, The Founder City Project and ScaleDriver)
“Toronto is the underdog and everyone knows it, which pushes founders to help each other to win" (Satish Kanwar, Shopify)
The city of Toronto.
The city of Toronto.
The Amazon factor
The technology scene could grow further should Amazon decide to relocate its second headquarters in the city. As part of its bid to host Amazon's second headquarters, Toby Lennox, CEO of Toronto Global (who led the bid) has promised to boost the number of the students graduating with STEM degrees. The payback, if Amazon picks Toronto for its HQ@, is 50,000 jobs and US$5 billion in economic investment.
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