It isn’t Canadian politeness, the love of hockey or winter weather envy attracting gaming and digital media companies around the world to the Ontario Technology Corridor. They are attracted to the Province of Ontario’s “game on” approach to tax incentives and Canada’s overall financial stability. They also value Ontario’s high concentration of skilled workers – the largest talent pool – that has attracted studios from global gaming and development firms.
Among recent companies making Ontario their new home are Arkadium, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Rockstar Games, Ubisoft, and Zynga. Ontario also fosters an excellent homegrown crop of companies including Christie Digital, Digital Extremes, Keyframe Digital Productions, Nulayer and RocketOwl.
In a post on Arkadium’s Inside Access site on Facebook, Director of Operations Daniel Sennet states that his New York-based company’s decision to locate a major studio in Ontario “wasn’t just because everyone there is nice and says ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ It also wasn’t because hockey is clearly the best sport in the world. It was mainly because as a company, we were looking for an educated, skilled and motivated workforce. We were also looking to open an office in a welcoming city – and by welcoming, I mean one that extends business opportunities to you including significant tax incentives. When we thought about how few cultural or language barriers there are and that we can walk to the office from the airport … it was a clear no-brainer.”
“Forbes Magazine’s most recent Best Countries For Business rating ranked Canada No. 1, citing our ability to skirt the financial meltdown that’s plaguing the U.S. and Europe, our banking system’s solid lending practices, trade freedom, a reformed tax structure and a lack of red tape,” says Bill Elliot, Integrative Trade Consultant with Canada’s Technology Triangle Inc. “When you add Ontario’s strategic focus on gaming and digital media, government incentives can cut costs for game developers and producers by up to 40 per cent, and fast-track policies that make it easy for companies to relocate key personnel as well as their spouses, the Ontario Technology Corridor is a very compelling choice.”
Canada’s largest province is committed to developing a world-renowned digital gaming industry, and Ontario provides game producers and outsource providers with powerful financial incentives that can cut costs dramatically.
Ontario’s Media Development Corporation (OMDC) is the central catalyst for the province’s cultural media cluster and offers many targeted tax incentives. Created specifically for game developers and producers, the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit refunds up to 40 per cent of the costs of labour, with additional support for marketing and distribution of games created in-house in Ontario. For companies that develop games under a fee-for-service arrangement, the tax credit is 35 per cent. In either case, there is no per project or annual corporate limit on the amount that can be claimed.
In addition to industry-targeted tax credits, powerful R&D tax credits can be combined to further reduce overall cost to companies. For example, $100 in R&D expenditures can be reduced to about $57 or $39 for a small business in Ontario. A broader range of costs qualify for deductions than in many other jurisdictions, and R&D tax credits can be carried back for 3 years or forward for 20 years.
Ontario Technology Corridor’s thriving digital gaming industry chooses its new hires from 44 top-notch universities and colleges that produce thousands of graduates in specialized digital media programs including 3D animation, film studies, advanced computer programming, math, and hardware engineering.
Ontario-based game developers who hire students from Ontario colleges or universities can receive a refundable Cooperative Education Tax Credit of 25 per cent of their salaries, up to a maximum of $3,000 per student – an excellent incentive to evaluate potential new hires.
The Ontario Technology Corridor in partnership with the Ontario International Marketing Centre in Munich offer key advantages to digital media companies at gamescom 2012 to show that Ontario is the best place in North America to expand or relocate their businesses.
Employing nearly 260,000 people among 6,400 companies within Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sectors, the Ontario Technology Corridor encompasses the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa Region, Waterloo Region, City of London and the Niagara Region. The Corridor also welcomes the partnership of the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation as well as the federal government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
The Ontario Technology Corridor is supported by the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance (GTMA), Invest Ottawa, Canada’s Technology Triangle, the London Economic Development Corporation and Niagara Economic Development.