Toronto’s tech industry is booming

“It’s now a place to make a long-term bet – to connect with the group of schools in the area and create a new hiring pipeline,” said Tristan Jung, a Korean-born computer scientist who grew up in Toronto, spent six years working at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, and recently persuaded the company to build an engineering center at his home in Canada.

Over the past year, Twitter has hired more than 100 engineers in Toronto, tripling its Canadian workforce. Home internet names like DoorDash, eBay and Pinterest have built similar tech hubs in the city, as have rising artificial intelligence companies like Cerebras, Groq and Recursion Pharmaceuticals.

This corner of Canada is home to two universities known for producing the best researchers and engineers: the University of Toronto, a short walk from downtown, and the University of Waterloo, Mr. Jung’s alma mater, about an hour away. by car or train. In the past, much of this talent migrated to the United States. But engineers and computer scientists trained in and around Toronto are increasingly staying put.

Or, like Mr. Jung, they are returning home after years in the United States.

In Toronto, US-based companies can also accelerate the influx of new tech talent from other countries – a talent flow that has long been a cornerstone of the US tech industry. As the US immigration system slowed and died down under the Trump administration, Canada introduced programs aimed at bringing skilled workers to an already unusually diverse country. Nearly 50% of Toronto residents were born outside the country, according to the city.

“It’s infinitely easier to bring this kind of talent to Canada,” said Heather Kirkby, director of human resources at Recursion, a company that applies AI to drug discovery. “A lot of companies have waived immigration to the United States. There are limits to what is possible.”

In and around Toronto, local institutions intend to fuel the tech ecosystem. Ontario recently passed a law that explicitly prohibits companies from enforcing non-competition clauses in employment contracts, encouraging employees to start their own businesses. Backed by a $100 million donation from local business leaders, the University of Toronto is building a complex that will house AI and biotech companies.

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