Toronto is the driving force behind Canada’s tech, finance, manufacturing, creative and service sectors. It’s also a cultural powerhouse. The most diverse city on the planet, Toronto is a place to convene, create, play, do business and launch the next great idea that could change the world.
Top of the world
Toronto’s international honours have been flying in almost too fast to count. In 2021, Toronto ranked first in North America for both high-tech job creation and population growth, and first in the world for working women. It was also named the globe’s second-safest city, its sixth-best for remote workers, and ranks among the top in international smart-city rankings.
“Now rivalling some of the most sophisticated business ecosystems in the world, Toronto has emerged as a city with huge investment opportunities — be it in tech, in real estate, the arts or talent,” says Abdullah Snobar, executive director of innovation hub the DMZ at Ryerson University. “Its diverse economy and people offer so much potential for continued discovery. That’s how Toronto continues to attract the next generation of innovators.”
The city owes its success to the many cultures of its many peoples — more than 50 percent of the population is foreign-born, representing 250 ethnicities and 180 dialects spoken. The result of such diversity is inspirational. With so many people coming from different regions, Toronto is the ideal place to collaborate, experiment and create. Home to the world’s most influential film festival, a thriving arts scene, an endless array of restaurants and clubs, Toronto has it all.
“Canada’s greatest economic strength has always been our highly-skilled, diverse, and innovative workers and businesses. That’s why Toronto, and other cities across Canada, are quickly becoming global hubs for innovation, unleashing the ideas and jobs of tomorrow. The leaders and workers behind these businesses will shape the future of innovation here in Canada and around the world, and help drive middle class and economic growth – and our government will continue to be there to support them.”
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“I consider Toronto to be the greatest city, in the greatest country in the world. Our innovation community is a massive reason for that, because it has a unique mission: to generate wealth while also advancing the well-being of all citizens.”
— John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
WHERE BUSINESS COMES TOGETHER
THE WORLD WANTS TO MEET IN TORONTO — PEOPLE, STARTUPS, INSTITUTIONS AND BIG-TIME CORPORATIONS.
The city hosts countless international events in premier venues such as the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Enercare Centre at the historic Exhibition Place. Just look to Collision, one of the world’s largest tech conferences. The event demonstrates just how much Toronto’s innovation sector lifts all sectors (and just how much fun it can be). Walk the conference floor and you’ll see movie stars chatting with tech CEOs; world leaders testing the latest products; thinkers debating the ethics of A.I. They all come to Toronto to share their stories and advance their solutions.
“Toronto ranks high for ambitious, talented people,” says Andrew D’Souza, CEO of tech unicorn Clearco. “You can come here and work for a company that shares your values and stands for something.” A veteran of Silicon Valley, D’Souza co-founded his company in Toronto with partner Michele Romanow to amplify what he calls “Canadian values” in the business world: fairer access to capital, more female leadership and diverse teams — virtues he sees evaporating south of the border.
Toronto’s progressive culture can also be found in its financial services. A top 10 player internationally, the community is separating itself from the competition with diversity. Jennifer Reynolds is CEO of the Women Corporate Directors Foundation (WCD), and former CEO of Toronto Finance International (TFI). She’s seen how much Toronto’s financial services have embraced change for the better. “When I go to conferences in other global financial centres, there are fewer women in the room than we would see in Canada.” More than half of Toronto’s finance sector is female.
Collaboration has been key to all this progress — easy in a city that encourages cooperation among its businesses, academics and healthcare organizations. The Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, for example, was founded by U of T scientists, is supported by the government, and has graduated several entrepreneurs now running startups in fields as varied as regenerative medicine and self-driving cars.
But walk down a Toronto street and see for yourself. You never know who you’ll meet.
“Toronto is one of the most open places on Earth. It’s a city where many political issues aren’t issues.”
— Paddy Cosgrave, CEO, Collision
In 2021, Toronto’s innovation community represented:
• 18,000+ tech companies
• 273 A.I. firms
• 400,000+ workers
• 65+ tech and business accelerators
Gateway to Canada
Flying to Toronto is a breeze, thanks to its two best-in-class airports. Located 30 minutes from downtown via the UP Express train, Toronto Pearson International Airport has been named the best large airport in North America four years straight. With non-stop and same-plane service to more than 175 cities around the world, it serves roughly 50 million passengers each year and will soon be home to a massive regional transit hub.
There’s also Billy Bishop Airport, a downtown island facility accessible by ferry and underwater pedestrian tunnel. Winner of the Airports Council International Environmental Achievement Award, the airport provides easy access for visitors from across Canada and the United States.
Culture for innovation
Toronto has no single identity — and that’s a strength. It’s why each neighbourhood feels like its own city, and it’s what gives Torontonians the confidence to create solutions that are not just new, but better.
Toronto is still a young city. That means anyone who comes here — for a meeting, a vacation or just one breathtaking night at the theatre — has a chance to contribute to the city’s story.
Here, art, entertainment, cuisine and urban design are infused with innovation to inspire.
Must do, must-see
2021 saw the revitalization of Massey Hall, Canada’s most-celebrated music venue. Along with its upgraded main room, it now also offers two smaller theatres for local performers, state-of-the-art A.V. tech, lounges and a recording studio.
Art Gallery of Ontario
The AGO features an unmatched collection of Indigenous works, Canadian classics, European masterpieces and African art, old and modern. In 2008, the AGO completed its most recent addition, designed by Frank Gehry, who grew up just a few blocks away.
Aga Khan Museum
Overlooking the Don Valley, the Aga Khan Museum showcases the art and culture of various Islamic civilizations. His Highness the Aga Khan chose Toronto as a tribute to the city’s pluralism.
A city of possibilities
Toronto, a city that’s famous for bringing worlds together, is now literally expanding its horizons, creating entirely new communities and embedding innovation and sustainability in everything.
Soon to be completed is a staggering collection of projects — infrastructure both awesome and accessible. Consider the Port Lands revitalization: 400 hectares; 25,000 new residents; vast park land; and, yes, an island and winding river built from scratch. Then there’s Toronto’s transit expansion (the largest in North America) that will bring five new rapid lines in the coming years. And don’t forget new data centres and hospitals, more tech hubs and festivals, as well as the promise of net zero by 2040 on the back of historic investments in electric vehicles, reforestation, green-building standards and clean technologies.
Toronto is a city of participation. A city that flourishes due to the proximity of cultures that encourage us to experiment, remix and come together through osmosis learning. Come to Toronto. Let’s build the future together.
The future in sight
• 2.3 million digital-economy jobs by 2025
• 8 million Greater Toronto Area residents by 2030
• Net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040
Exciting new buildings are going up all over the city.
- The Indigenous Community Hub will be a centre for wellness, education, housing and childcare.
- Aquabella at Bayside condos feature stylish solar-panel cladding.
- The Cultural Hub at Humber College will offer theatres, labs, studios and shared spaces for students and the wider community.
- George Brown College’s The Arbour will be Ontario’s first mass-timber, low-carbon institutional building.