Toronto’s tech industry is quietly booming
“It’s now a place to make a long-term bet — to build a new pipeline of hiring and building relationships with a bunch of schools in the area,” 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 make it an engineering hub in Canada.
In the past year, Twitter has hired more than 100 engineers in Toronto, tripling its Canadian workforce. Household Internet names such as DoorDash, eBay and Pinterest created similar technology hubs in the city, as did growing artificial intelligence companies such as Cerebras, Grok, and Recursion Pharmaceuticals.
This corner of Canada includes two universities known for producing top 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 by car or train. at a distance. In the past, much of this talent went to the United States. But engineers and computer scientists trained in and around Toronto remain persistent.
Or, like Mr. Jung, they are moving back home after years in the United States.
In Toronto, US-based companies can also accelerate the arrival of new tech talent from other countries – a talent stream that has long been the lifeblood of the US tech industry. As the US immigration system slowed and pulsated under the Trump administration, Canada introduced programs aimed at bringing skilled workers into a country that is already unusually diverse. According to the city, about 50 percent of Toronto residents were born outside the country.
“Bringing that kind of talent to Canada is infinitely easy,” said Heather Kirkby, chief people officer of Recursion, a company that applies AI to drug discovery. “A lot of companies in the US have given up on immigration. There are limits to what’s possible.”
In and around Toronto, local institutions are intent on feeding the tech ecosystem. Ontario recently passed a law that explicitly prohibits companies from applying non-compete clauses to employment contracts, encouraging employees to find their own start-up. Backed by a $100 million donation from local business leaders, the University of Toronto is building a campus that will house AI and biotech companies.
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