Collision from Home: Reflections from Across Canada

Rebecca McDonell, Advisor, Partnerships and Strategy, Invest in Canada

person watching video conference on laptop computer

When Canada attracted Collision Conference, North America's fastest-growing tech event, the world took notice of a progressive northern neighbour, accelerating start-ups and fueling tech giants with global expertise at an astonishing pace. In 2019, this colossal event occurred outside of the United States for the first time. With great success in Toronto, many of the 25,000+ attendees from across 125 countries began immediately planning their return to Canada in 2020.

As news broke of the global pandemic earlier this year, Canada saw even more reason to open our doors to the global community, bringing together a world adapting to rapid change amidst the largest economic challenge of recent history. Additionally, what better platform to showcase Canada’s resilience, adaptability, innovation and accelerated digital transformation. In March 2020, Collision announced that the conference would go forward virtually in Toronto.

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Talent and Innovation: Twin Drivers of Canada’s Tech Industry

Ian McKay, CEO, Invest in Canada

programmer reading computer codes on a desktop computer

Canada’s technology industry is thriving—and more global investors are taking notice.

With the second event in a multi-year commitment to hosting the world-attracting Collision tech conference coming up soon, Canada is proud and excited to again be part of this important global event.

When conference co-founder Paddy Cosgrave was finalizing a decision in 2018 to move the growing conference—it had already been hosted in Dublin, Lisbon and New Orleans—indications were that a singular Canadian location would be ideal as the conference’s new home.

Mr. Cosgrave wrote in an article on LinkedIn that, “At the very moment when some countries around the world seem to be shutting their borders, when intolerance is on the rise, Toronto stands for something very different.” 

Collision in Toronto brings technology in Canada to the world

Following its successful launch in Toronto in 2019, Collision now finds itself in both a new and familiar world.

The new is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, which in this specific context has resulted in Collision From Home—bringing together 30,000+ attendees, 1,000+ investors and 1,000+ journalists from 100+ countries to hear 450+ speakers from June 23-25 in a virtual setting accessed from attendees’ homes around the world.

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Why the American Tech Industry Is Innovating in Canada

Invest in Canada

skyscrapers

At a time when foreign direct investment flow into developed economies plummeted by 40 percent, investors went all in on Canada in 2018, intensifying their investment in the country by 70 percent. In fact, when Amazon announced it would be dividing its HQ2 pie into numerous slices, its further expansion into Vancouver became the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in tech in Canadian history.

IBM and Microsoft have both also crossed the border from America into Canada, joining the 41,500 tech companies that have taken root in cosmopolitan cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. In Toronto alone, the number of tech jobs increased by 50 percent between 2012 and 2017, adding 82,100 jobs to the city; that’s more than any other city in North America. Not to be forgotten are the new tech jobs in cities across the country, like Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

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Why U.S. Companies from All Industries Are Flocking to Canada

Invest in Canada

downtown toronto

At a time when multinationals face increasingly restrictive access to some markets, Canada remains an open and progressive global player and an optimal ecosystem in which to quickly scale up and innovate for the future.

In 2017, Salesforce announced that it would invest $2 billion in its Canadian companies over the following five years. The next year, it additionally rolled out its Canada Trailblazer Fund, a $100 million investment in Canadian entrepreneurs to fuel innovation in the country.

The Salesforce announcements were massive; however, in many ways, they were only a microcosm of what’s happening across Canada. Amazon, Tesla and Uber are among the many other U.S. companies expanding into their northern neighbor.

What’s propelling so much American activity up north?

Canada has the most educated workforce in the world. It also has several federal immigration programs ensuring that if select skilled workers aren’t available in the Canadian market, they can be enticed to the country very quickly. (Canada’s affordability and excellent quality of life help with that.)

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Tech Brain and Manufacturing Muscles Make Canada the Ideal Environment for Mobility Companies

Invest in Canada

car manufacturing facility

Michigan and Ontario represent the two largest automotive manufacturing markets in North America. While Michigan continues to make more vehicles, Canada’s strengths in technology, talent and trade have made Ontario the best location for mobility companies going forward into this increasingly tech-driven world. And that includes for American auto brands too.

Today, Ontario has the distinction of serving as the Canadian headquarters of five global OEMs—Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota. Together, these companies assemble more than two million vehicles each year at their Canadian plants.

They are supplied by an ecosystem of nearly 700 parts suppliers across the country and a talent base with expertise that spans areas such as robotics, reinforcement learning, computer vision, cyber security and automotive software.

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