HYNESIGHT by James G. Hynes

HynesA88X146.jpgHigh Tech Capital where it should be

Deloitte & Touche (Canada) has released the latest of its annual "Technology Fast 50", i.e., the currently fastest-growing companies in the high-tech sector (most of which have slowed down quite a bit lately). Guess where they're located? A whopping three are in Ottawa, if you include one in Kanata. Markham, Canada's other self-appointed "high-tech capital," betters that with four, and so does Kitchener-Waterloo, also with four. As for the real biggies, guess what? Toronto alone has 10. Make that 12 if you include Mississauga, and 16 if you add Markham where it really belongs. Next biggest, unsurprisingly, is the next biggest city, Montreal, which has nine if you include one each in St-Laurent, Dorval and Brossard. So which location is really the "high-tech capital"? None by any reasonable standard. Despite their relative abundance of high-tech companies, the economies of Toronto and Montreal are so diverse, no single sector really dominates; in both cities, high-tech alone is dwarfed by other sectors like finance and manufacturing. Does this mean we've got a problem because we don't have all our high-tech eggs in one basket? Not that I can see, but it does mean Ottawa should pass an injunction preventing the words high, tech and capital from ever coming within 500 metres of each other. There's obviously no high-tech capital in Canada, and also no reason why there should be. The clusters of specialists that various sub-sectors require can occur anywhere the underlying resources and infrastructure are present, and in Canada, that's a lot of different places. The diversity of locations reflects the diversity of the high-tech sector itself, and that's as it should be.

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