Canada’s capital has it all — abundant talent, product innovation and an economy that weathers all storms

International intellectual and author, Richard Florida ranks Ottawa as Canada’s number one city
based on the three Ts of economic development: Technology, Talent and Tolerance

Ottawa is building upon its traditional strength as the nation’s capital and is now globally recognized as a centre for innovation and technological advancements as well as a national tourism and convention destination. For the third year running, MoneySense Magazine named Ottawa Canada’s number one city when comparing all of the factors that constitute life in a modern city.

With its quick and easy access to the U.S. market, plus close proximity to Canada’s largest cities — Toronto and Montreal — Ottawa provides a unique advantage for business growth. Invest Ottawa, an expanded city initiative launched in 2012 to attract investment and retain/grow existing businesses, is focused on building key knowledge-based sectors including life sciences, cleantech, wireless, security and defence, photonics, digital media, film and TV productions.

Ottawa has the most educated workforce in Canada. 61 per cent of workers have a post secondary degree. Ottawa is second only to San Jose, California in North America for a concentration of scientists and engineers.

Four universities and four colleges in the Ottawa region provide a steady stream of educated workers. Combining 44 national and university research labs makes Ottawa a North American leader in research and development. Ottawa has attracted multi-nationals such as IBM, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Avaya and Huawei – all have large and growing product development campuses in Ottawa.

Why Ottawa

In August of 2011, Cisco was the latest firm to announce growth plans in Ottawa. It will double its workforce to 400. This builds on other recent announcements of expansions by Ericsson, Huawei, and Ciena. Ottawa is not only a top talent city; it’s a product development city that turns ideas into exciting innovations the world wants. An example, IBM makes Ottawa home for its Cognos business intelligence software used by over 23,000 companies and organizations. RIM develops the operating software for its PlayBook tablet and BlackBerry smartphone in Ottawa.

Ottawa’s economy has consistently weathered all storms. Its combination of high technology and government jobs means that for 24 years Ottawa has had the most stable and one of the lowest unemployment rates among Canada’s major cities. According to the World Economic Forum, Canada has the world’s soundest banking system, and Canada’s combined federal and provincial corporate taxes average 26 per cent, about 13 percentage points lower than that of the U.S.

Canada is the best country for business in the world, as reported by Forbes Magazine in its October 2011 study of 134 countries.

Business advantage

Ottawa leads all Canadian cities with the most educated workforce in Canada, involved in knowledge-based sectors including life sciences, cleantech, wireless, security and defence, photonics, digital media, film and TV productions. As a G8 capital city, there are more than 130 embassies and consulates based in Ottawa to assist those seeking overseas markets. In addition many federal agencies in Ottawa have a mandate to help Canadian companies.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade works with Invest Ottawa organizing incoming and outgoing trade/investment missions. Export Development Corporation helps exporters expand their business. The Business Development Bank of Canada offers business financing. The National Research Council (NRC) administers Canada’s premier innovation assistance program for small and medium-sized enterprises — the Industrial Research Assistance Program.

Ottawa has a dynamic and comprehensive research infrastructure that focuses on government, university and industry collaboration. The city has over 50 years of experience in supporting start-up and spin-off companies. Canada’s largest government research facility, the NRC, is based in Ottawa, and works closely with the city’s business community. With a critical mass of research facilities, a highly educated workforce and access to substantial federal and provincial R&D tax incentives, Ottawa is widely acclaimed as a world-class centre for research.

“Alcatel-Lucent Ottawa is one of the major Wireless Product development sites in the company and the Ottawa campus also houses key aspects of our Wireless ngConnect Program.” — David Ritonja, Vice President ISAM Product Unit North America, Alcatel-Lucent, Ottawa Research and Innovation Centre

Future plans

Ottawa’s economic development plans include:

  • Funding for large scale cultural and sports events that will bring significant benefits for the local economy
  • Increased support for knowledge-based sectors including life sciences, cleantech, wireless, security and defence, photonics, digital media, film and TV productions
  • New and sustainable funding to enhance entrepreneurship
  • A new $180 million convention centre in the heart of the city is boosting the convention industry
  • Ottawa is building a $2.1 billion light rail network to improve public transit
  • A two billion dollar upgrade to Ottawa's water infrastructure.

“It’s important to not be afraid and dream.” — Jim Watson, Ottawa Mayor

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