Geek In the News Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Accordion City Report Says: Boost Our Infotech! [Updated]

Toronto skyline with a 'Matrix' sky.

Only moments after finishing my blog entry covering 5 high-tech gatherings taking place here next month, I went to the kitchen to grab a drink when I spotted the front page of the Business section in today’s Toronto Star. The headline reads: Boost infotech in GTA: Report.

It turns out that Toronto has the third-largest information and computer technology (ICT) workforce in North America, after San Francisco and New York and accounts for CDN$35 billion (US$31 billion) in sales each year.

(For those of you not from around here, GTA means “Greater Toronto Area”. “Toronto” is a popular nickname for Accordion City.)

Here’s an excerpt:

If it hopes to keep up with New York and San Francisco, the Toronto area’s hodgepodge information and communications technology sector needs to band together and hype its brand around the globe or risk watching smaller markets surge ahead.

That’s the thrust of a new report, spearheaded by the City of Toronto and due out today, that diagnoses an industry employing 148,000 at 3,300 area firms but that is geographically spread out, too loosely affiliated and lacking the kind of unified voice that could get politicians’ attention.

“Toronto’s ICT sector does not enjoy the recognition of such internationally recognized locales as Silicon Valley, Austin, Boston or Bangalore,” the report says. “This inevitably puts Toronto at a disadvantage with respect to attracting foreign and domestic investment. …The whole is currently less than the sum of its parts.”

The 110-page report on what is the third-largest such cluster in North America makes many suggestions, calls for the formation of an umbrella organization of stakeholders to better promote the industry, and urges them to preach the cause to policy makers who ignore the industry.

The report urges that by 2011, we should:

  • Move from third place in North America in terms of company growth and investment and take one of the two top spots
  • Increase investment in ICT research in the region by 25%
  • Increase ICT sales and employment by 20%
  • Attract 5 new multinational firms to the region

Problems to be overcome include:

  • Government and investor preoccupation with “darlings” such as biotech and nanotech, whose economic impact is “negligible”
  • The governmental perception that Toronto is an economic “fat cat” (not true; Toronto carries the province and helps to carry the country)
  • Competing with “China Inc.” (or perhaps the “BRIC” countries — Brazil/Russia/India/China)
  • The scattered nature of Toronto ICT firms — maybe there needs to be an organization representing us that provides a central point of contact

I like to think that those of us who’ve been pushing to get the tech community together for gatherings to meet each other and share ideas are doing our part to help meet the objectives in this report. I also think it’s something that we should discuss at our gatherings — I’m going to have to get my paws on a copy of the report.


Ah-hah! Here’s where copies of the report are available!

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