University of Waterloo creates billions in economic impact, according to Deloitte report

Friday, November 22, 2019

Startup companies at the University of Waterloo's flagship entrepreneurship programs have generated more than $2 billion in revenue and around 7,500 jobs over about a decade, according to a major new report by Deloitte Canada.

The first third-party study to measure the dollar value of contributions made by the University’s entrepreneurship and co-operative education programs also shows companies that hired Waterloo co-op students realized an additional $525-million in returns in 2018 alone. This total employer gain is based on outputs from co-op students during their work terms and subsidies for hiring co-op students, after subtracting the salaries paid and training costs. 

Those conclusions are among the key findings of Deloitte’s 94-page report, which examined the University’s economic contributions using internal and Statistics Canada data, as well as consultations with business, research, entrepreneurship and government stakeholders.

The analysis found that the University, one of the region of Waterloo’s largest employers, contributes billions of dollars annually to the region’s gross domestic product, through operations. It also recognized its ability to support entrepreneurs, its one-of-a-kind co-op program, and world-leading research activities.

“We’ve long been aware of the significant impact that Waterloo’s co-op and entrepreneurship programs are having beyond our campus,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor at Waterloo. “What this report demonstrates is that our focus on experiential education and entrepreneurship are not only good for students; they’re good for the local and national economy.”

To better quantify the University's status as a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada, Deloitte examined incubators and accelerators that support startups along several stages of the commercialization process.

Velocity, an entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo that supports early-stage companies, has helped companies that have created more than 4,268 jobs between 2008 and 2018 and generated $1.3 billion in revenue.

The Accelerator Centre (AC), which helps companies at later stages scale up, has created 3,300 jobs since 2006. Its spun-off companies generated revenues of $1 billion in the same period.

Waterloo’s incubator and accelerator ecosystem creates an environment that can promote and reinforce entrepreneurial activity and the generation of new businesses in the economy, the report’s authors wrote. And the University’s commitment to being an active partner within its community deeply embeds it within the fabric of the Waterloo region, they said.

"In the coming years, we can expect the University to continue to drive these impacts. Taken together, the University of Waterloo can be seen as a national asset, and an important contributor to the Waterloo region, Ontario and Canadian economies,” Deloitte officials state in the report.

The report also highlights the impact that the University of Waterloo's operations as a whole have a significant impact on the GDP of the region overall, province and country as a whole.

In the 2017/18 fiscal year alone, the University’s operations contributed $1.16 billion to the region's GDP. Out-of-town student expenditures contributed $303 million, co-op earnings contributed $251 million, and entrepreneurship programs contributed $80 million annually to Waterloo’s GDP, on top of the University’s direct, indirect and induced operating expenditures.

On a provincial level, the University’s operating expenditures contributed $1.4 billion to Ontario’s overall GDP, as well as $458 million from Waterloo’s research activities. On the national level, the University’s operational impact contribution to Canada’s GDP was $1.52 billion in 2017/18.

Impact on Canada's GDP
University operating expenditure      $1.52 billion
Out of town student expenditures     $412 million
University research contributions      $458 million (Ontario GDP)
Co-op program impact                      $567 million
Velocity and AC companies              $170 millon

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