Tech sector momentum continues to grow in Waterloo Region, as Communitech reports that 450 startup jobs and 300 new companies emerged in the Region during 2011, along with continued hiring in established companies. Companies working with the Communitech startups team raised over $70 million in funding from venture capitalists, angel investors and government incentive programs to spur on innovation during 2011.
The 2011 figures bring results for the past three years to a total of 1,441 new startup jobs and 531 new companies in Waterloo Region. In addition to startup growth, another 1,000 new jobs were created in medium to large tech companies.
“These figures are truly remarkable in view of global economic challenges,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, the organization representing 800 tech companies in Waterloo Region. “The growth trajectory demonstrates that tech innovation is thriving here, with the support of the tech community and specialty programs that help companies of all sizes get a toe-hold and grow.”
Along with growth comes demand for specialized talent. Desire2Learn, a learning software company, currently has over 200 job openings to fill; there continue to be approximately 1,300 tech job openings overall in the Region. Communitech frequently stages job fairs – anywhere from the local community to as far away as Vancouver — to help attract needed talent to the area. A Waterloo TechVibe recruiting event planned for Tuesday, January 24th in Waterloo will include more than 30 hiring companies.
The 30,000 square foot Communitech Hub, which houses digital media initiatives, is already bursting at the seams and is completing a 15,000 square foot addition to meet demand – a success story that has unfolded in The Hub’s first 18 months of operation. Built with support from the private sector, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada, The Hub has been a catalyst for 165 startup companies to date. There are more than 400 active startups in the Region making Waterloo Region on a per capita basis, the startup capital of Canada, Klugman said.
“And this is not only a great place to start a company — it’s a great place to evolve and grow a company at any stage of an enterprise’s lifecycle,” said Klugman.
Many established tech companies in Waterloo Region have had a year of growth through acquisitions, such as:
- Descartes Systems Group which acquired InterCommIT and Telargo
- Google which acquired PostRank and PushLife
- Parametric Technology Corp. (now PTC) which acquired MKS
- Teledyne (now Teledyne DALSA) which acquired DALSA
New companies have located in Waterloo such as Electronic Arts (EA), attracted by the strong tech labour pool and quality of life in Waterloo Region. OpenText’s new CEO Mark Barrenechea is relocating to Waterloo Region from Silicon Valley to lead Canada’s largest software company which is headquartered here.
2012 promises to continue the growth trend for Waterloo Region with the completion of the Hub expansion next month, ongoing hiring into the 400 startup companies that will translate into many more jobs in the Region, and great things on the horizon for established companies, many of which are also hiring, said Klugman.
Communitech’s newest initiative to attract U.S. companies to the Region is a ‘soft-landing’ program to enable smooth transitions into the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem which will seed further growth and job opportunity.
Communitech offers programs ranging from ensuring high school students are exposed to the possibility of pursuing a math and science track at university, to executive coaching for early-stage companies, to its LevelUp management development programs for small to medium-sized enterprises. In a recent survey, 91 percent of tech companies rated at least one program or service offered by Communitech to be “very or extremely important to them.”