Information Communication Technology (ICT) Sector
Toronto: Canada's ICT Hub
Produced by: City Of Toronto
This discussion paper has been prepared to provide participants at Technicity 2010 with a brief overview of Toronto’s ICT sector. It attempts to capture the salient characteristics of an industry that continues to re-invent itself.
More than 60% of ICT professionals in the Toronto region are between the ages of 25 to 44, significantly higher than all other industries at 48%. The ICT sector in Toronto boasts a highly educated work force, as more than half of those working in the sector hold a bachelor's degree or higher levels of education. Further, the Toronto region offers ICT organizations the tools they need to succeed, including industry associations, start-up accelerator centres, and a tight-knit community (City of Toronto).
The backbone of the ICT sector in the Toronto region is its telecommunication infrastructure. The telecommunications sub-sector employs one in five people. Home to 2 of the 3 largest telecommunications companies in Canada and smaller providers, Toronto is connected by sophisticated high speed networks.
According to the Branham300 (2009), of the top 250 Canadian ICT companies, 40% are headquartered in the Toronto region. See the map below.
Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies
The Toronto region is home to the country's largest ICT sector, employing over 178,000 people as of 2012 (City of Toronto, 2012). A study of Toronto's ICT sector found the region to be the 3rd largest in North America, after San Francisco and New York (Regional Clusters in a Global Industry, 2009). The region is also Canada's largest centre of ICT education and research, receiving $650 million in federal research and development (R&D) funding in 2008 and 2009 (City of Toronto).
Culture is thriving in Toronto in part because the City is highly connected to global social networks. The City is a perennial front runner in social-network rankings, most recently coming in sixth worldwide for Twitter users (Socialmediatoday.com). Toronto has a vibrant web start-up scene and growing mobile application development community. Google recently opened offices in Dundas Square, in the heart of downtown showing a commitment to Toronto's ICT sector.
Toronto ICT Facts
- Annual IT revenues in the Toronto region are estimated at $52 billion, with a workforce of over 178,000 people (City of Toronto, 2012)
- There are 5,000 tech students graduating annually from post-secondary institutions in the Toronto region
- There are more than 11,500 high-tech companies, with leaders in every sector and national dominance in digital media and Internet(City of Toronto, 2012).
- The Toronto region is home to 30% of Canada's most cited basic researchers and scientists
- 40% of Canada's top ICT firms are headquartered in the Toronto region
- 5 of the 10 fastest growing ICT companies in Canada are located in the Toronto region (Branham300)
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Canada/Ontario ICT Facts
- ICT is Canada's largest private investor in R&D - $5.7 billion annually, $650 million in software alone (Invest in Canada)
- Canada is ranked 9th in the world for ICT competitiveness (Invest in Canada)
- ICT sector revenues were estimated at $155.3 billion in 2008. This is the fifth consecutive year of growth in revenues for the Canadian ICT sector (Industry Canada, Software)
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Toronto has become a hub for video game development in Canada. Its large talent pool, sound economy and regulation have helped push Canada ahead of the U.K. in gaming innovation, according to the Ontario Technology Corridor. Canada trails only Japan and the United States in the highly lucrative and growing digital entertainment industry.
It was a big win for Toronto when game studio UbiSoft announced in 2009 that it would open up shop in the city to work on Splinter Cell and other high-profile projects. UbiSoft joins Koei, Digital Extremes, Rockstar Toronto, Transgaming and many other game developers in the region.
Ontario's Media Development Corporation offers tax incentives that are targeted at developers including:
- 30% refund on eligible early stage development;
- 35-45% refund of production costs,
- 20% tax credit on labour costs; and
- up to $150,000 in project production funding.
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The Toronto region leads North America in offering a diverse, talented pool of Interactive Digital Media (IDM) workers. IDM in the Toronto region has expanded beyond niche development shops to the point where they now actively collaborate with large corporations.
The digital media industry consists of more than 950 companies employing approximately 16,000 people and estimated revenue of between $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion annually in Ontario.
Toronto's new media industry is growing rapidly and exerts a very strong influence on many other industries, including film/television and advertising. This industry is made up of firms and freelancers whose main activity consists of providing technology products and services to media markets. These firms specialize in animation, post-production, special effects, website development, graphic design services, and CD/DVD production. The Toronto region boasts over 800 new media firms, with approximately 60% of them located within the City of Toronto.
There are many exciting interactive digital media initiatives focused on growing the industry in the Toronto region. These initiatives bring together entrepreneurs, capital, government incentives and resources to provide creative environments for industry participants.
"Proximity to several schools with world class computer-science and design programs, such as the University of Waterloo and the Ontario College of Art & Design [University], is one reason for the Toronto region's emergence as a mobile-apps hub. Availability of public and private-sector funding is another, as is access to entrepreneurs and engineers who cut their teeth working at or with Blackberry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), whose headquarters are just one hour west of Toronto in Waterloo" (Wall Street Journal).
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Initiatives and Events
Ryerson Digital Media Zone (DMZ)
The Digital Media Zone (DMZ) is designed to help take any digitally-inspired concept and bring it to market.
The DMZ is a workplace designed for young entrepreneurs, infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto. It's a place where students and alumni can innovate, collaborate and market their products and services. The DMZ is also a resource for commercial enterprises to turn to for progressive and creative digital solutions.
Digital Futures Initiative
The Digital Future Initiative (DFI) compliments two initiatives funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC): the Consortium on New Media, Creative, and Entertainment R&D in the Toronto Region (CONCERT), and the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC). Both CONCERT and MEIC are innovative, industry-driven consortia that support research, commercialization and economic development.
- Canada's R&D tax incentive program ranks among the most generous in the world:
- All businesses are eligible, regardless of size
- The range of eligible costs in Ontario is broader than in many countries
- There is no cap on the program
- The Ontario and Canadian governments' R&D tax incentives can cut after-tax research costs by 47% to 60%.
- Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
IRAP provides assistance to commercialize pre-approved projects through technical and business advisory services, as well as financial assistance to small and medium size businesses.
- Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund (OETF)
The Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund will co-invest ( with qualified venture capital funds and other private investors) directly into companies working within the focus areas defined by Ontario's Innovation Agenda.
A discretionary, non-entitlement investment program, the OETF is a $250 million fund that will commit a maximum of $50-million per year for five years. Investments will be made alongside qualified co-investors into innovative, high-growth Ontario companies.
- Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC)
The OIDMTC is a refundable tax credit based on eligible Ontario labour expenditures and eligible marketing and distribution expenses claimed by a qualifying corporation with respect to interactive digital media products.
The OIDMTC is calculated as 40% of eligible Ontario labour expenditures and eligible marketing and distribution expenses incurred after March 26, 2009 by qualifying corporations, regardless of size of corporation, to create eligible interactive digital media products in Ontario.
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ICT Support Network
Ontario Media Development Corporation
The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), an agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, is the central catalyst for the province's cultural media cluster including book publishing, film and television, interactive digital media, magazine publishing, and music industries.
Ontario Technology Corridor (OTC)
The OTC is a geographic region situated in the heart of Canada's most urban, highly educated and dynamic province. The OTC is a dedicated organization for technology companies considering relocating to or expanding in Ontario.
Ontario Centers of Excellence (OCE)
The OCE helps entrepreneurs move from research to commercialization in Ontario. The purpose of the OCE is to support economically relevant R&D, opening new market opportunities and aid in the commercialization of new technologies. The OCE builds strong industry and academic relationships, stimulating the transfer of knowledge from bright minds to the market.
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Employment in the sub-sectors of the interactive digital media industry in Ontario.
The tables lists a variety of organizations and agencies in Ontario that support innovation in the ICT sector.
Summary statistics of the interactive digital media industry in Ontario and Canada.
The concentration of Canada's 250 largest ICT companies that are headquartered in the Toronto region.
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CANADA’S HIGH-TECH HUB
As one of the world’s leading ICT and media hubs, Toronto has a rich technology ecosystem with remarkable breadth and depth. Located in a major urban centre, Toronto’s ICT sector thrives on the rapid innovation and introduction of new chnologies that stem from collaboration with a diverse range of sectors – for example, healthcare, education, social, cleantech, media and entertainment. The City’s ICT sector is constantly evolving with impressive growth being driven by a wide array of segments such as cloud computing, mobile platforms and applications
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