The Toronto-Waterloo startup ecosystem has risen four spots in the recently released 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome. The report ranks 140 ecosystems around the world and highlights Toronto-Waterloo as one of the year’s biggest movers, moving up in the rankings from 18th in 2020 to 14th in 2021. The University of Waterloo, along with the Region, MaRS Discovery District and Communitech, worked closely with Startup Genome to highlight Toronto-Waterloo’s strengths.  

According to the report, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor is one of the fastest-growing and densest innovation clusters in the world and is home to 20 percent of Canada’s university students. The corridor has created $20.8 billion in economic value with $2.3 billion total early stage funding over the last two and a half years.  

“This report is further evidence that a significant part of Canada’s economic future — and the way it is perceived around the world — is being powered and inspired by the Toronto-Waterloo corridor,” said Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “A large part of what makes the ecosystem here so unique is the strength of Waterloo Region’s post-secondary sector. Our world-class institutions continue to fuel innovation through important research and by attracting and educating top students, who go on to join the rich talent pool that powers our startups.”  

Programs and opportunities that foster innovation, entrepreneurship and tech-for-good are a primary focus at Waterloo as the University prioritizes developing talent for a complex and everchanging future. Successful startups in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor have been founded by Waterloo alumni, including unicorn companies like Apply BoardFaire and Clearco, which all retain close ties to the University, such as employing Waterloo co-op students.  

The report emphasizes the highly diverse and talented workforce in the area, stating that Waterloo produces some of the top graduates for growth companies in AI, cybersecurity, health and medical technologies and fintech. Many companies along the corridor got their start at Velocity, the University’s entrepreneurial incubator, which recently announced its companies have secured more than $2 billion in total funding, a 40 per cent increase raised by alumni and residents since 2019.   

The report also points out strengths in the areas of AI, Big Data and Analytics as well as Life Sciences, all fields where Waterloo researchers have made significant innovations, many of which are highlighted in our annual Global Impact Report. Advancing research in these areas for global, societal and economic impact remains a significant strategic goal for the University. 

The upcoming Innovation Arena, which will launch in 2023 at the University’s Health Sciences Campus, was also mentioned in the GSER report. The purpose of the arena is to connect researchers and emerging talent with community, business and health partners to advance innovation and technology solutions and help drive Canada’s next wave of economic growth.