The University of Waterloo has secured its top spot as most innovative University in Canada. For 29 years, Waterloo held this title, 2020 being the exception. The University of Toronto and University of British Columbia follow in second and third place.

Numerous startup incubators and entrepreneurial support programs are housed at the University of Waterloo, including Velocity, Concept and St. Paul’s GreenHouse,” says Sanjeev Gill, associate vice-president, innovation. “Our former students or graduates go on to become leading entrepreneurs and researchers, founding unicorn companies valued at more than $1 billion, such as Faire founded by Waterloo alumnus Marcelo Cortes and ApplyBoard, co-founded by Engineering alumnus Martin Basiri.”

Waterloo’s flagship incubator, Velocity, has also witnessed alumni and residents collectively raising more than $2.4 billion USD, a 40 per cent increase from $1.7 billion raised at the end of 2020. Other Waterloo reputational results from Maclean’s 2020 rankings include:

  • Moving up to 3rd from 4th in the Leaders of Tomorrow category (behind University of Toronto and University of British Columbia)
  • Remaining at 3rd in the Best Overall category (behind University of Toronto and University of British Columbia)
  • Remaining at 4th in the Highest Quality category (behind University of Toronto, McGill University and University of British Columbia)

Results in the reputation area are based on a survey that Maclean’s conducts each year. Survey participants included guidance counsellors, faculty member, senior administrators and a variety of businesspeople. Respondents completed the survey online and were asked to rate Canada’s universities in three categories — highest quality, most innovative and leader of tomorrow. Best overall represents the sum of the scores for all three categories.

Student Voices Survey and program area rankings

Maclean’s also runs a Student Voices Survey where 19,000 students from across Canada responded. Waterloo was also noted as second nationally in terms of average entering grades in Canada at 91.6% (behind University of Manitoba), while tying with the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto for #1 in computer science, but dropping to #2 in engineering (behind University of Toronto).

Waterloo remains #1 for experiential learning and improved to 2nd from 3rd last years in course instruction.

Comprehensive Universities

Maclean’s “Comprehensive Universities” category highlights 15 universities who showcase a significant amount of research activity and a wide range of programs at the undergraduate and graduate level but have no medical school. These results are based on survey responses from university administrators, faculty and a variety of businesspeople.

Waterloo remains #1 in the areas of social sciences and humanities grants, scholarships and bursaries as a percentage of operating expenses and in reputation among comprehensive universities.

“The University of Waterloo continues exemplify its leadership in the areas of innovation, experiential education and developing talent for a complex future,” says Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Waterloo. “It is because of our exceptional community of students, researchers, faculty members, staff and University partners that we continue to achieve such prestigious rankings in Canada.”