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Does Toronto’s Tech Community Need a Hub?

On Inc. recently, there was a long and bubbly feature on the emergence of Detroit’s high-tech sector.

While Motor City’s high-tech community still has a long way to go, one of the more interesting angles to the story was how a lot of activity is taking place downtown on Woodward Ave. (aka “Webward Avenue”). Led by large companies such as Quicken Loans and Compuware, a high-tech community is being created that includes a growing number of start-ups.

It got me thinking about the structure of Toronto’s high-tech community. While one of the community’s strengths is the enthusiasm, energy and camaraderie, one of the realities is it is physically dispersed. There is activity happening many pockets such as Markham, King/Spadina, Liberty Village and Yonge/Eglinton as opposed to being clustered together.

The geographical scattering means it can be challenging to bring everyone together to synchronize, coordinate and rally the troops.

So the question is whether Toronto’s high-tech community and industry would benefit from the development of a tighter cluster in which different parts of the ecosystem were in the same geographical vicinity. It may not be a “campus” but perhaps the creation of a  high-tech “zone” that would establish and nurture its own identify, community and energy.

This “zone” would have the ability to support large and small companies, as well as all the supporting services such as suppliers, restaurants, cafes, etc.

So what do you think? Is this kind of thing necessary? Is it possible given the current geographical realities?

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  • http://www.marsdd.com Joe Greenwood

    In a world in which many high tech businesses could chose to locate anywhere, like many industries before, they tend to cluster and feed off each other for success. Given the creative and human nature of building and using tech that’s not so surprising – be it London’s Silicon Roundabout http://www.techcitymap.com/index.html or growth in Manhattan’s Silicon Alley http://tinyurl.com/7ahdlp3

    Creating visibility of tech activity helps remind us of the vibrancy of Toronto, like this recent map we created highlighting concentrations of startups in TO http://www.marsdd.com/2012/02/22/startup-city. What our work highlighted is that startups need affordable rent, good transit access and a host of local amenities – there are loads of neighbourhoods where these requirements exist. So maybe what we need to do in Toronto is name our startup neighbourhoods and promote them more? In any event we think there’s room for more than one startup hub in this great City and with areas like Liberty Village still growing, waterfront developments coming online and improved transit (crossing our fingers!) opportunities should exist to support the growth of these areas.