TORONTO – Given the presence of the Canadian capital, Ottawa, and the country’s largest city, Toronto, it’s perhaps no surprise that the province of Ontario has a culture of innovation. It’s the “Silicon Valley of the North” to quote The Globe and Mail, and recent initiatives from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hope to strengthen Ontario’s claim to that moniker, with digital job creation a priority in the region, even at the expense of manufacturing.
Over the past five years, the software industry in Ontario has created around 35,000 new jobs, an increase of 26% over employment data for 2011. According to Bloomberg, despite a surge in housing market activity in the province, prompting growth in the finance, real estate, and insurance sectors, software engineering remains the fastest growing industry in Ontario and could shove overall economic growth up to 2.9% in 2017.
Ontario’s decisionmakers have placed a heavy emphasis on idea fulfilment or the need to take innovative schemes from the drawing board to the consumer; it’s something Canada has never been very efficient at in the past. Ontario is reportedly responsible for 60% of all new, innovative, and high-tech products that make it to market, with almost 300,000 skilled employees stationed somewhere along Highway 401, between Toronto and Waterloo.
The uptake of software of a different kind – mobile apps – is also experiencing a boom in Ontario and, indeed, in Canada as a whole. Statista indicates that the popularity of sports apps in particular climbed 172% in 2016, with messaging up 98%, and the appeal of business apps climbing 84%. What’s remarkable about the usage of mobile apps in Canada is how much tastes change over time; in 2015, health and fitness software was the major growth area.
The CD$15bn gambling industry has also had an impact locally, given that it’s offering is increasingly encapsulated on mobile phones and tablets. The Lottoland app, for example, allows you to check your lotto numbers on-the-go, whether that’s the Canadian Lotto Max or something more exotic like EuroMillions or the US MegaMillions. The website also has playable scratchcards on its mobile platform, making it something of a one-stop solution for gamblers.