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Investing in Canada: the Silicon Valley of the North

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The following content is sponsored by the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco.

Foreign Direct Investment in Canadian Tech Sector

Canadian Technology Hotspots

Investing in Canada: the Silicon Valley of the North

The fastest-growing tech hubs are no longer limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. Canadian cities have emerged as ideal ecosystems for nurturing technology companies.

In particular, Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, and Vancouver are well-known hubs for innovation, attracting some of the world’s top tech talent.

Today’s graphic from the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco highlights why Canada’s booming tech industry is attractive to foreign companies, and where the new avenues for growth are located.

Investing in Canada’s Tech Sector

Canada is an attractive market for foreign investors and corporations.

  • Free Trade: Canada is the only country that freely trades with every G7 nation
  • Innovation: The tech startup ecosystem in Canada ranks 3rd in the world
  • Stability: Canada’s social and political climate ranks in the top 20 most stable worldwide

Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Canada is fueling this growth. In just a year, FDI grew by 70%—from $32.2 billion in 2017 to $54.7 billion in 2018. There are three primary types of FDI:

TypeDescriptionExample
HorizontalSame type of business established in a foreign country Cell phone provider in the U.S. opens stores in Canada
VerticalDifferent but related business established or acquired in a foreign countryU.S. manufacturer acquires a Canadian supplier of parts or raw materials required for its products
ConglomerateAn investment made in a business unrelated to the foreign investor’s existing businessJoint venture between a Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) company and a U.S. company with no experience in AI

For many years, Canada has maintained an open flow of trade, investment, and talent with other nations. That’s why many well-known foreign companies are flocking to the “Great White North” to attract world-class talent.

Who’s Got Talent: Hiring the Best

Canada is an emerging leader in talent attraction. The influx of FDI and skilled immigrants has sparked the “brain gain” throughout Canada’s tech sector.

The Global Skills Strategy (GSS) is a recent federal program that fast tracks immigration for highly-skilled workers applying directly to Canada or through U.S. companies. In 2018 alone, the GSS received over 10,000 applications─with a 96% success rate for approved work visas.

Shorter processing times for Canadian work visas are enabling more efficient immigration. Canadian visas are now processed within 10-14 days, compared with the typical U.S. timelines of 6-10 months.

Locally, Canadian tech talent has also grown formidable. Notable experts in AI, deep learning, and technology have pursued lucrative research and career opportunities in Canada.

Canadian Tech Pioneers

  • Yoshua Bengio: 2018 Turing Award, University of Montreal
  • Richard Sutton: Google DeepMind, University of Alberta
  • Joelle Pineau: Facebook AI Research (FAIR), McGill University
  • Geoffrey Hinton: Google, 2018 Turing Award, University of Toronto
  • Donna Strickland: 2018 Nobel Laureate, University of Waterloo
  • Doina Precup: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Senior Fellow, McGill University
  • Sanja Fidler: NVIDIA Director of AI, University of Toronto
  • Hugo Larochelle: Google Brain, CIFAR Associate Director, University of Montreal

Notable accolades include the Turing Award, which is given annually to selected individuals for their contributions “of lasting and major technical importance” to the computer science industry.

Highly skilled professionals such as those listed above are working closely with both renowned academic organizations and major tech companies to foster innovation in Canadian tech.

Show Me the Money: Setting up Shop in Canada

Companies that choose to invest in Canada’s technology sector also have access to several key financial incentives.

  1. Tax Incentives
    Foreign companies can receive corporate tax breaks for investing in a Canadian office. Any research and development (R&D) work may also be eligible for Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits.
  2. Lower Labor Costs
    Lower costs of living throughout Canada allows foreign companies to pay lower wages to staff without impacting quality of life. The rent-to-tech wage ratio─the ratio of a tech worker’s monthly housing costs to their monthly wages─is significantly lower in Canada compared to major U.S. tech hubs. For example, Montreal’s ratio is 12.6%, compared to San Francisco’s ratio of 26.4%.
  3. Lower Operating Costs
    Setting up a physical office also offers more value per dollar for foreign companies, as most operating costs are significantly lower in Canada.

The Canadian tech industry is consistently boosting job growth, tech innovation, and wealth creation─all important considerations for foreign companies and investors.

Attracting Foreign Companies to Canada

Many view Canada as a land of opportunity─ the country consistently ranks highly on global happiness, thanks to its stable politics, social factors, and strong economy.

With quality talent and lower costs, Canada is fertile ground for U.S. and foreign tech companies seeking to grow their businesses and global reach.

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Why Telcos Must Get in the Game for the Rise of Esports

Telcos failed to capitalize on the ‘Netflix’ opportunity — however, the birth of a new multi-billion dollar industry (esports) could change the game.

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Why Telcos Must Get in the Game for the Rise of Esports

Over the last century, the world’s telecommunications companies have built out the complex infrastructure that makes the information age possible.

Hundreds of billions of dollars has been invested into phone lines, submarine cables, wireless towers, and fiber optics to connect the world. And with 5G innovations in the pipeline, the world has never been able to communicate faster and more effectively.

Despite this impressive accomplishment, telcos find themselves in an awkward situation: their revenue growth is stagnating and margins continue to shrink, all while companies like Netflix are monetizing internet bandwidth around the world.

Today’s infographic is from Swarmio Media, and it highlights challenges faced by telcos — and how they can potentially capitalize on the emergence of esports and a massive gaming market.

A Missed Opportunity

Habits around content consumption can change abruptly, and fast-moving technology companies have been able to capitalize on these changes.

That’s why, in recent years, there’s been a boom in over-the-top (OTT) media services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Skype, etc.) that have found effective ways to operate on top of the telco infrastructure, streaming content or providing VoIP services to end consumers.

 TelevisionVoice & MessagingAudio
Example OTT services- Netflix
- Disney+
- Amazon Prime
- YouTube
- HBO
- Skype
- WhatsApp
- Messenger
- WeChat
- Viber
- Spotify
- Apple Music
- Podcasts
- Internet Radio
- YouTube
Global market size (2018)$68.7 billion$26.7 billion$8.9 billion
Growth rate (2017-2018):28%15%33%

Although telcos arguably missed the boat on video streaming, voice, and messaging, there is now an emerging segment that could help fill the gap.

The rising popularity of esports could be the multi-billion dollar industry that provides telcos a much-needed growth area to better monetize their infrastructure.

The Esports Boom

In recent years, the growth in professional gaming has been explosive.

Already worth over $1 billion, the market is projected by experts to triple by 2025. Esports is regularly packing stadiums with avid fans, spawning new professional teams, and selling massive sponsorship deals.

This boom in esports – and in online multiplayer gaming in general — has created a commercial audience of digital natives that is both young and affluent. It’s a growing segment that sees gaming as a lifestyle, and they see professional esports gamers and personalities as their heroes.

The Need For Speed

Any multiplayer gamer will tell you that there is one surefire way to ruin the gaming experience: high latencies (or as they call it, “lag”). This is an area telecoms are uniquely positioned to help with, especially with the advent of edge computing technology and 5G.

When it comes to online gaming, a sophisticated edge computing system will be able to detect where each player is located, while creating a server in an optimal location that provides all the players with the same high bandwidth, low latency, and experience.

By leveraging technology that enables edge computing at scale, forward-looking telcos can take gamers to where they want to go – and with plenty of value-adds.

Living on the Edge

To compete against growing outside threats like Netflix and Google, telcos must make bold investments in enabling technologies that bring edge computing to their customers at scale.

Beyond acting as the gatekeeper to lightning fast connections, telcos can take advantage of esports and gaming by building internal online communities, delivering tailored esports content, and enabling and promoting esports tournaments.

If done right, this can help telcos engage with digital natives, create meaningful experiences, win lifelong customers and advocates, and maximize average revenue per user (ARPU).

For many of the 2.5 billion gamers globally, there is little reason to be loyal to a telco – until now.

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Brace for Impact: Industries on the Verge of CBD Disruption

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Brace for Impact: Industries on the Verge of CBD Disruption

It seems as though cannabis is on everyone’s lips these days.

More specifically, the conversation centers around a major chemical compound found inside the plant—cannabidiol, or more widely known as CBD.

CBD’s far-reaching therapeutic benefits are propelling the global CBD market, which could hit $20 billion by 2024. However, industries like alcohol and pharmaceuticals are being directly threatened by this rapid rise.

Today’s infographic from CannaInsider explores how CBD is disrupting these industries, and the latter’s strategies to curb this effect.

Who will emerge unscathed?

CBD Market Spreading like Wildfire

A growing stream of robust research highlights CBD’s benefits in combating certain health conditions, such as:

  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
    • Nearly every product segment, from pet health to beverages, is experiencing a CBD infusion to take advantage of these therapeutic effects.

      This surge in popularity presents significant opportunities to create an entirely new consumer base. Emerging consumers seek CBD products for various applications, such as self-care, socializing, and fitness.

      Going Head to Head with Big Players

      The alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries are bracing for impact, as the new variety in CBD products and formats threaten their market share.

      Alcohol

      The percentage of alcohol consumers has dropped by 4.6% since 2000, with changing tastes at the center of this cultural shift.

      New research that tracked behavioural change from 2018 to 2019 found similar results. The percentage of alcohol consumers consuming cannabis has increased from 36% to 45%, while the percentage of cannabis consumers who consume alcohol has decreased from 72% to 65%.

      These behavioural shifts have influenced a significant number of alcohol industry titans to partner with cannabis companies. For example, Molson Coors is entering the cannabis space with HEXO Corp to launch CBD-infused beverages.

      Tobacco

      Similarly, declining smoking rates continue to negatively impact tobacco sales. As many tobacco giants pivot to reduced-risk-products (RRPs) such as vapes, cannabis is also catching their eye.

      Most notably, Altria invested $1.8 billion for a 45% stake in global cannabis company Cronos, potentially signalling the start of many partnerships between the two industries.

      Pharmaceuticals

      The pharma industry is particularly interested in CBD’s therapeutic properties. Medical cannabis sales for 2019 will reach $5.9 billion—poaching $4 billion from Big Pharma’s bottom line.

      This is triggering multinational companies to collaborate with cannabis companies at a furious pace. Partnerships—such as Novartis and Tilray—could unlock more international distribution of medical cannabis, and new pharmaceutical growth opportunities.

      Continuous CBD innovations will not only impact these industries—they could enhance human capabilities and unleash our full potential.

      Civilization 2.0

      A tsunami is unlocking new CBD sub-segments all over the world, with many offering solutions for mood and performance enhancement for both people and animals.

      • CBD for fitness: Incorporating CBD into a workout routine can boost performance, endurance, and recovery. Product types include pre-workout coffee, supplements, and post-workout smoothies.
      • CBD for pets: Proven benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties are driving sales of CBD treatments for pet health. By 2022, this market could be worth over $1 billion.
        • The Unknown Potential

          Applications that will allow a personalized cannabis experience are also on the horizon:

          • DNA-specific strains: Companies are testing people’s saliva to recommend specific strains that are tailored to their specific needs.
          • Odorless cannabis: More pure, less harsh odorless cannabis will soon be available, allowing consumers to smoke in stealth mode.
          • Grow your own: Cannabis consumers can cultivate their own plants at home, and even control the process from their smartphone.
            • As CBD consumption grows, many industries will need to decide to disrupt, or be disrupted.

              Several other cannabinoids have also been discovered, but they have yet to be researched in depth—which means the investment potential of CBD could be just the beginning.

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