Toronto Mayor John Tory delivers keynote promoting Toronto-Waterloo corridor to Silicon Valley

john tory

As part of a three-day trade mission to promote the Toronto-Waterloo region to some of the biggest players in Silicon Valley, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic are meeting with Square, Twitter, and Salesforce execs, co-hosting a reception for Canadian tech expats, and meeting with local venture capitalists and Canadian thought leaders in the area.

Mayor Tory delivered a keynote speech at City Age, a conference meant to encourage partnerships between business and government, in San Francisco. Besides promoting the corridor’s high concentration of post-secondary institutions, Mayor Tory name-dropped several highly-successful startups based in these areas, including Bridgit — which won Google Demo Day women’s edition in the Valley — and Vidyard, which raised an impressive series C. Of course, he mentioned the fact that Waterloo has the second largest startup density after Silicon Valley.

“We have a highly educated population, and are graduating top engineers and computer scientists, designers and programmers as well as the highest concentration of PhDs in the world focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning – disciplines that are currently changing the face of industry as we know it,” said Mayor Tory.

“We invest together, as a community, in their education, in their health care, and in the cities that they call home. We take care of each other, we respect one another and we endeavour to keep each other safe. Because of this nature, our burnout rate is lower, and our quality of life is high.”

Tory also made a note of Toronto’s burgeoning reputation as a major centre for FinTech startups — the city is home to 20 of the largest banks in the world — and the city’s place in helping Canada shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a tech-based hub. The federal government has committed $130 million over five years to clean tech research and development, and $800 million over four years would go to support incubators and clusters.

“The Toronto-Waterloo region now has 200,000 tech workers working in 15,000 companies,” Tory said. As the conversation around diversity in tech continues, Tory highlighted how Toronto’s diversity has been integral to helping create companies that reflect people of all backgrounds. He cites the story of Allen Lau, founder of Wattpad, who moved to Toronto and Hong Kong at 19. Wattpad currently has 40 million unique users.

“They hired a young, multicultural staff with a variety of skills, many of whom had immigrated to Canada from other countries or were first generation children of Canadian immigrants and who spoke other languages and understood cultures in other parts of the world,” Mayor Tory said, citing Canada’s strong immigration system as one of the pillars making Toronto’s diversity possible.

“More than half of Toronto’s population of 2.8 million people were born outside the country,” Mayor Tory said. “This statistic speaks to a truly global network of connections, an economy — indeed an entire city region — that is not focused inward on itself, but that has tentacles and opportunities that reach right around the globe.”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor. Follow her on Twitter @jessicagalangg or send her pitches to jessica.galang@betakit.com.