Immigration fuels dominance of Canadian tech sector, says Silicon Valley venture capitalist
A senior venture capitalist says Canada’s open door to immigration is driving a boom in tech companies in Ontario, setting the province up to compete with America’s Silicon Valley as a leader in digital innovation.
âAs the United States has tightened immigration and has become less welcoming, Canada has taken smart steps to attract the world’s best talent and capital,â Chris Albinson, new CEO of Communitech, wrote in an article by opinion in the Globe and Mail.
âCanada now has six times as many skilled immigrants, as a percentage of the population, than our American neighbors – a significant statistic considering that half of the founders of America’s tech unicorns (private companies worth $ 1 billion or more) were born outside the United States “
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There are many avenues for highly skilled workers to obtain permanent residence in Canada, including Global talent flow (GTS) from Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) under which Canadian work permits and visa applications are processed within two weeks.
South of the border, America is known for the historic welcome of people from all over the world. There is even a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York City that contains a quote from a decidedly pro-immigration poem, The New Colossus: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses. yearning to breathe freely, The miserable waste of your teeming shore.
Under then-President Donald Trump, however, the United States cracked down on immigration even as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened the doors more widely for immigrants to come to the White North.
A report by polling giant Gallup highlights the difference in immigration policy between the two leaders.
“Until the pandemic forced Canada to slow immigration to a trickle, the country was on the verge of admitting more than one million permanent residents between 2019 and 2021, with targets increasing every year,” wrote the survey authors. “In the United States, it is estimated that the Trump administration has cut legal immigration by almost half since taking office.”
Now, the impact of Canada’s more welcoming approach to immigrants is being felt in the country’s burgeoning tech sector.
âFrom 2013 to 2019, 80,000 tech jobs were created in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor alone – more than San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC combined,â writes Albinson. âThis is pretty compelling proof that Canada is winning the hearts and minds of the best and brightest in the world for the first time in a generation.
According to the venture capitalist, Canada is poised to dominate the tech sector due to its immigration policies and its “strong advantage in the next wave of technology (think artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, 5G, medical technology, advanced manufacturing), our relative cost advantage and parity of access to markets and capital. “
Canadian technology success stories include Shopify Inc., Wealthsimple, Nuvei Corp., Lightspeed POS Inc., and Sonder.
âCountless other companiesâ¦ are following similar trajectories. ApplyBoard, Faire, Ada Support, 1Password, Clio, PointClickCare, Symend, Coveo, Hootsuite, and D2L have all raised over $ 100 million and several are likely to go public at valuations north of $ 1 billion, “wrote Albinson.
Newcomers to the Canadian tech sector who have just launched or are about to launch an IPO include Thinkific Labs Inc., Magnet Forensics Inc., Vendasta, Axonify, Miovision, Dejero, Trusscore, Vidyard and Intellijoint Surgical.
Trump’s policies overturned by Biden
Under current US President Joe Biden, many of Trump’s policies have been reversed. In a massive reversal of Trump’s outgoing stance on immigration, for example, Biden opened an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated eight million âDreamers,â illegal aliens living in the United States.
Yet the momentum Canada has gained over the years Trump propels it as a major player on the global IT innovation scene.
âAs a California-based Canadian venture capitalist for 20 years, I have kept a close eye on the tech scene at home – and the transformation during that time has been nothing short of spectacular,â Albinson wrote in the national newspaper.
“How spectacular is it?” Enough for Canada to take Silicon Valley off the global innovation podium, and more than enough for me to leave California to help push.
The venture capitalist is not the only business expert giving a double thumb to Canada’s immigration policy.
Last week, the Conference Board of Canada called Ottawa’s immigration plan during the pandemic economically sound. The national think tank said the country’s goal of keeping immigration levels high could lead to 44% GDP growth and a 15% improvement in the ratio of working-age to retirees – and add also $ 50 billion in annual taxes. revenue to public funds by 2036 to 2040.
“These benefits arise from the fact that immigrants invest in Canada, are a source of workforce and workplace talent, and provide a demand for goods and services,” noted the Conference Board of Canada.
By expanding its pool of highly skilled workers, Canada is also making itself more attractive to young tech companies and the investors who support them.
âThe truth, as we’ve shown over the past five years, is that capital follows talent,â Albinson wrote. âCanada has seen a net gain of 5,000 STEM workers in the past 12 months alone and capital follows.â