Comment 97656

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 17, 2014 at 21:49:37

In the wake of BlackBerry Ltd.’s recent travails, which seem to threaten a replay of the end of Nortel Networks Corp., it's easy to overlook the fact that Canada still has a few cards to play.

Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., have been home to some of Canada’s brightest stars, but little-recognized York Region may be taking a run at restoring some of the tech limelight to the country’s $155-billion industry.

This region of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) recorded the most accelerated revenue growth among Canada’s seven tech hubs, at 23 per cent in 2012, vaulting it past Ottawa to No. 4, behind Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Data was compiled by Ottawa-based Branham Group, authors of the Branham annual ranking of the country’s top 250 information and communications technology (ICT) firms.

Statistics Canada data indicate ICT employs 9.2 per cent of York residents, leading all GTA regions. Observers chalk its success up to a number of factors.

• Proximity to Toronto but with slightly lower taxes and more space.
• Big anchor tenants such as IBM and CGI that serve to attract small businesses as suppliers and partners.
• A high concentration of the talent these businesses need.
• Relatively strong links to the growing east Asia market.
• Increasingly active engagement between business, government and educational institutions.

York Region may finally be getting its due after toiling for years in the shadow of Toronto. But there’s a clear distinction between the two: Where Toronto is a hotbed of edgy startups in make it or break it mode, the average age of the York companies on Branham’s top 250 list is 21 years.

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