Toronto is one of the most influential cities on the face of Earth and one of the main factors in the new world scenario, in which technology, research and financial muscle play the leading role. With nearly 3 million citizens, Canada’s most populated city and its financial capital has strengthened its position over the past decade as one of the main cities of North America. Its spectacular demographic and economic growth has turned it into a benchmark for the financial realm and new digital economy. The Toronto-Waterloo corridor presently stands out as one of the most appealing ecosystems for startups, entrepreneurs and investors. Ontario’s capital casts doubt on the traditional leadership of New York, London or Singapore as international economic hubs. According to KPMG consulting company, Toronto is ranked among the fastest growing technological innovation hubs worldwide. Praised for its great quality of life, favorable business environment, cultural diversity and sustainable growth, Toronto has gotten used to heading all rankings that regularly assess the best places to live and make business on the planet. Buttressed by a modern and cosmopolitan society, the city that vertiginously grows by the Ontario Lake has become one of the best entrepreneurial ecosystems and a hotbed of ideas, art and architecture.
1 TORONTO IS CANADA’S ECONOMIC DRIVING FORCE
Over the past decades, Toronto has become Canada’s economic driving force and one of its most dynamic and enterprising cities. In the American Cities of the Future 2017/18 report, issued by FDI Intelligence, Toronto occupies the fourth position in the world ranking, in front of Atlanta, Miami and Boston, and it has been given several recognitions, including the third place in terms of economic and business potential, and tenth for human resources and lifestyle. It presently stands out as the second city when assessing economic dynamism in the country, according to several governmental reports.
Toronto ranks fourth in the American Cities of the Future ranking.
2 TORONTO’S INFLUENCE WORLDWIDE
Toronto has been included in the Top 10 of most influential financial hubs of the world, a list made up of nearly a hundred cities. This ranking is issued after assessing business environment, development of the financial sector, infrastructures, human resource and reputation. It is one of the Fintech hubs with greatest growth capacity at international level. KPMG consulting company underlines that Toronto is ready to position itself as one of the leading technological innovation hubs within the next four years, according to an annual survey conducted among world leaders from the technological industry. The report entitled Global Technology Innovation recalls that Toronto houses a dynamic ecosystem with over 4,000 active startups and more than 22,500 new technology-related jobs created over the past two years. Ontario’s capital is the only Canadian city rated as a world leading technological hub for the future. 6 percent of surveyed leaders said that the city is leaving its main competitors behind and it has already matched the level of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, the utmost technology and entrepreneurial culture market of the world. On the other hand, Toronto has been included in the top 5 of most habitable cities of the world, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit. Cities are rated in five categories: stability, health, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Toronto was given 97.2 points, with top marks (100 points), in such aspects as stability, healthcare and education. The lowest number (89.3) was obtained in infrastructures. Since 2011, Toronto has held the fourth position in this prestigious ranking, right behind Melbourne, Vienna and Vancouver. The Top 10 engulfs three Canadian cities: Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary.
Toronto houses a dynamic ecosystem with over 4,000 startups. Photo: StartupToronto
3 STRATEGIC POSITION
Toronto’s strategic position is one of its main strengths. There are over 120 million inhabitants within a 500 km radio and it is 90 minutes away from New York, Chicago, Boston or Washington, some of the most influential cities. This North American market is one of the most prosperous of the world, in some measure thanks to the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Mexico, back in 1994, which is being renegotiated. Toronto-based companies have access to a market made up of 533 million consumers. This strategic position does not go unnoticed for big international companies like Google or Amazon, which see Toronto as a scenario to develop new projects. Sidewalk Labs, owned by the parent company of Google Alphabet Inc., is planning to build a high-tech “smart neighborhood” near Toronto’s downtown, which is expected to revolutionize the life of cities. The project is expected to take the first step this very year. Google’s smart city will be made up of eco-friendly buildings with temperatures controlled by a thermal network that recycles energy. It will feature paths to walk and ride bike with specific prohibitions for non-emergency vehicles, offering self-driving buses and large green spaces. The plan also includes a “digital layer” for Quayside, which will be monitoring the whole activity in the neighborhood, from the inefficient use of electricity to pedestrian traffic and park benches.
4 A CITY WITH GREAT TALENT
Toronto is the most multicultural city of the world. 51 percent of its population was born in other countries and this trend is expected to grow over the next years. It features four universities and four colleges with nearly 200,000 students every year. Over 60,000 university graduates had been reported by the early days of this decade, which represents 64 percent of worker with a university degree. As for the national context, it is important to mention that Canada is described as the best-trained country of the world, according to the report issued by OCDE (Organization for Cooperation and Development) and it is ranked second when measuring higher education results. It is necessary to recall that Canadian universities hold excellent positions in world university rankings. According to Times Higher Education, the University of Toronto is the best Canadian university and ranks 22nd at world level, while the University of British Columbia climbed two steps and retook the position obtained back in 2015: 34th. McGill stands in the 42nd position, with an emerging McMaster University, University of Montreal and University of Alberta also holding positions in the world Top 200.
MaRS Discovery District in Toronto is one of the biggest urban innovation hubs of the world.
5 FAVORABLE TAX POLICY FOR STARTUPS
Toronto and Ontario offer one of the most advantageous tax policies in Canada. The type of combined income tax is 26.5 percent, 13 percentage points below average in the United States. Ontario’s corporate income tax is also lower than those established in most of the G7 member countries. When comparing provinces or states in the north of America, Ontario occupies the first position in the ranking of competitive types of Corporate Income Tax with 26.5 percent, followed by Ohio with 35.2 percent and Texas with 35.7 percent. In 2017, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was approved to provide a new free trade scenario between Canada and the European Union.
6 A BUSINESS-FRIENDLY CITY
Toronto is described as one of the best five cities of the world in terms of business opportunities, if compared to London, New York, Singapore and San Francisco. Entrepreneurs are only to go through a procedure in a bid to set up a company and it features the lowest risk when it comes to choosing, hiring and transferring workers, according to the Aon Hewitt People Risk Ratings. It also heads other indicators that buttress its condition as a startup-friendly city: environmental laws that back up the competitiveness of companies, quality of management schools and low operational costs (taxes, rental of facilities, public services, transport and manpower), if compared to other cities of the similar size like Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston or New York. Toronto is the ninth most technological city of the world, according to prestigious Business Insider. It is the seat of 30 percent of Canada-based ICT companies. Most of these companies have 50 or less employees and generate 52 billion dollars a year.
7 THE TORONTO-WATERLOO CORRIDOR, A MAGNETIC POLE FOR GLOBAL STARTUPS
The 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report has rated the Toronto-Waterloo corridor as the 16th best startup ecosystem of the world. The study was based on 58 ecosystems from 28 countries. The assessed categories include Development, Financing, Market research, Talent and Enterprising Experience. Toronto-Waterloo occupied the fifth position in market research, which takes into account the chances for startups to go global. Moreover, the report shows that the Toronto-Waterloo corridor has the second highest density of new companies in the world. According to estimates, 2,100-2,700 new companies flourish due to the engineering talent, business culture, affordable rent market and global customer base. Ontario and Toronto can boast about having a diversified economy. Financial services (Toronto is the financial capital of Canada), the real estate and manufacturing sectors represent a third of the provincial GDP (Gross Domestic Product) percentage. Other business areas are experiencing a significant growth over the past years, such as Food and Drinks (it has already become the third largest in North America), and ICT (Information Technologies), which is beyond 8 percent of the total figure. Toronto presently houses the third biggest “cluster” of North America and employs over 200,000 people in sectors related to videogames, digital means, and software or data centers.
The 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report has rated the Toronto-Waterloo corridor as the 16th best startup ecosystem of the world.
8 A CITY WITH QUALITY OF LIFE
The 2018 Quality of Life Survey conducted by Mercer consulting company has rated Toronto as the 16th best city of the world to live. The annual survey assessed the conditions of over 200 cities related to quality of life. The report’s ten categories include political and social aspects, economy, sociocultural elements, healthcare, education, public services and transportation, leisure, consumer goods, housing and natural environments. Toronto matched Melbourne in the ranking, but it left other cities behind, like Luxemburg, Ottawa and Hamburg. Toronto was also labeled as one of the greenest cities of the world, by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In collaboration with the World Economic Forum, the MIT researchers calculated the Green View Index (GVI) by using Google Street View, so they could analyze the perception degree of inhabitants of every city included in the study. Toronto’s result was 19.5 percent. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) also rated Toronto in the fourth position of its 2017 Safe Cities Index, which assesses 60 large cities from around the world. Toronto was in the eight position back in 2016 and it presently stands out as the only Canadian city among the first 50. The EIU study include four categories: digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security. Toronto holds the first position in terms of personal security and digital security.
9 THE CANADA- LATIN AMERICA CONNECTION, A GROWING BRIDGE
Over 200,000 people with Latin American origins live in Toronto. According to statistics provided by the Canadian government, Toronto’s metropolitan area houses the biggest Spanish-speaking community in the country. Toronto is also the seat of 56 percent of mining companies in the stock market and 35 percent of oil and gas companies, many of which have had interests for decades in several Latin American countries, like Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia or Argentina. The purchase in 2014 of Canada Bread by Mexican Bimbo represented a turning point in the Canada-Latin America trade relations. During the past Summit of the Americas, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed interest in joining the Pacific Alliance and the country is increasing trade relations with such countries as Mexico, Chile or Colombia.
10 CANADA, A COUNTRY WITH GREAT ECONOMIC STABILITY
Canada is one of the most solid economies among the G20 member countries. The OCED (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) points out in its latest report that a light contraction is expected for 2018 after the strong economic growth experienced by Canada in 2017, although statistics will keep on showing a robust and solid economy. The true GDP growth in the last quarter of 2017 was 1.7 percent and economists foresee that this year’s report will not show the 4 percent achieved in the first half of last year. The country created 32,300 new jobs in March, so unemployment rates went down to 5.8 percent, thus matching the lowest mark since Canada Statistics began to measure this indicator back in 1976.