Ottawa is Probably a More Appealing Place to Grow a Startup Than You May Think

When you think of Canada’s biggest and hottest startup ecosystems, our “big three” typically come to mind first: Vancouver, Toronto, and Waterloo.

These are the three that rank in the top 20 of Startup Genome’s list of the best ecosystems in the world, after all—and while that list is not definitive, it’s certainly an excellent measuring stick. But Ottawa is a quiet powerhouse and a bigger draw of talent than most probably suspect.

Ottawa ranked number one out of 61 global cities for talent, according to Invest Ottawa, an organization built to deliver export-oriented economic development programs and initiatives that increase entrepreneurial momentum, wealth and jobs in the area, and the city boasts the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in Canada.


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Invest Ottawa, which recently celebrated its second birthday, also notes that Ottawa is Canada’s most educated city: 61% of workers have a post-secondary degree. This has led to a well-employed workforce—75,000 of the Ottawa region’s 1.2 million metro population work in 1,900 knowledge-based businesses, who help contribute to the area’s $46 billion GDP.

Ottawa, which has the highest number of patents per capita in North America in the past decade—yes, that includes US heavyweights like Silicon Valley and New York City—has also been ranked the most sustainable city in Canada, as well as one of the least congested and fastest growing on the continent. And despite all this, it remains the least expensive large city in which to live in Canada.

The city isn’t a tech powerhouse. But with figures like these, it’s hard to imagine it being anything less than a matter of time before Ottawa is.