According to data from LinkedIn, Toronto is by far the best place for tech startups in Canada, and likely the hottest market for startups in North America. You can read Riva Gold’s article about it here.
Toronto has access to one of the most incredible talent pools in the world, with Canadian universities like University of Waterloo and UofT that churn out some of the top software engineers each year.
It’s not by accident that Toronto and Montreal are positioned to be some of the top AI cities in the world with such active student populations flooded with international students. The relative decline of Silicon Valley, high rents and a pandemic mean that places like Toronto only get stronger for tech startups. We are seeing that especially as it relates to the intersection of AI and healthcare.
Following a record-setting $250 million donation to its faculty of medicine, the University of Toronto has revealed plans to build a new center focused on artificial intelligence research and education in medicine. As it matures, the intersection of AI and healthcare is going to be very important too for companies such as Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft.
The University of Toronto called it the largest donation ever to a Canadian university. It’s notable that a significant amount of the donation will be dedicated to artificial intelligence.
According to LinkedIn data as shared by one of their editors, Rita Gold, despite 2020’s challenges, Toronto continues to climb in international rankings of entrepreneurial ecosystems. It is considered among the top spots in the world to start a business. Toronto-based companies also dominated LinkedIn’s Top Startups in Canada list for 2020. The city has seven of the top 10 young businesses that have continued to attract interest and employees in a tumultuous year.
The conclusion is that Toronto is already positioned to be the Silicon Valley of the North. This used to be a fun thing we’d say, but that prophecy is coming to fruition in 2020. The university will create a new centre for artificial intelligence research and education in medicine, to be led by director Muhammad Mamdani. It will aim to harness some of the university’s research strengths in machine learning and AI to fuel discoveries in diagnostics that help patients at the bedside.
AI at the intersection of healthcare will be one of the most lucrative fields for new companies born in the 2020s and 2030s. It’s clear that Toronto will be where they are founded. Increasingly new grads won’t be lured to foreign companies with sketchy ethical records. They will develop home-grown startups with more potential to lure VC money from the likes of China and Silicon Valley itself. This will mark an important shift in North America’s startup ecosystem.
Chinese money will continue to fuel innovation across the world, but more so in Canada than the United States due to political reasons. So there are multiple headwinds of why Toronto will become a leader in the AI of healthcare. Is Toronto the place for startups? It certainly appears that way.
It is the richest ecosystem for talent, engineers, collaboration with Chinese backers and Silicon Valley AI spotters. Those are the goldilocks ingredients for an AI hotbed. Riva Gold misses the point a little bit when talking about startups: it’s AI startups in particular and those specifically in healthcare that Toronto will come to be known for.
Just as China specializes cities for specific parts of the technology ecosystem and supply chain, global cities will need to learn to do the same. For the Canadian startups scene, it’s not that Toronto is a great startup ecosystem per se for generic startups. It’s rather a testament to how bad other Canadian cities actually are at scaling companies.
However, given UofT and Waterloo’s rankings, they attract the cream of the crop in Canada. The results will speak for themselves. Toronto will be a leading AI startup hub by 2025.