The VeloCity garage work area at the U of Waterloo. Working on 30 new startups this fall.
There’s no doubt the ongoing reports of layoffs and downsizing at Blackberry are painful to many individuals. Many are losing their jobs, at least temporarily. And this recurring news gives the distinct impression that both Blackberry is fading away, and that the Region of Waterloo is entering a recession.
Both of these perceptions are premature according to many Waterloo boosters who claim to know better. It is hard to predict where Blackberry will be one or two years down the road. But with or without a thriving Blackberry Waterloo Region is doing very well.
The high tech industry in particular is doing very well. Much of the credit goes to the University of Waterloo. Over the last two or three decades there have been dozens of successful companies spun out of the departments of engineering, computer science, environmental science and others.
So much so that Google recently announced that Waterloo’s Communitech startup incubator was one of seven North American hubs selected to join the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network. This puts them in elite company and can only mean even more innovation and economic spinoffs for the future.
Since 1997 when there were roughly 50 high tech companies in the Kitchener-Waterloo are employing fewer than 2000 people, this sector has grown by roughly 1500% to where there are now about 1000 companies with more than 30,000 employees.