In recent years, British Columbia’s (BC) most populous city, Vancouver, has grown into one of the world’s leading technology hubs (and it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down). Today, you can find companies from bootstrap startups to corporate giants doing their technology business here.
The city’s rapid rise to prominence can be attributed to America’s stringent immigration policies. However, while it’s true that Canada’s comparatively relaxed stance on immigration is driving some of the best and the brightest minds to the region, it’s not the only reason why Vancouver is a hotbed for software developers.
Sure, we have a Startup Visa that’s championed at a federal level, but there’s a lot more happening on the ground to help make this city a true talent magnet. What am I talking about? Keep reading!
The Local Technology Landscape
The coastal seaport city in Western Canada that boasts stunning views already had a healthy technology ecosystem since 2000. This is evidenced by a few of Canada’s growing tech companies coming out of Vancouver, including Avigilon, Hootsuite, and Bench.
The technology sector in the region is made up of the following types of businesses:
- Business Intelligence
- Social Media
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
- Web Technologies
Vancouver is also home to some industry heavyweights who have maintained a strong presence in the city for many years. These include Amazon, Apple, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, SAP, and Zenefits. In fact, Amazon is scheduled to open a 416,000 square foot facility in 2022, adding more than 3,000 high-tech jobs.
Other technology corporations include Absolute Software, ACL Service, BuildDirect, TELUS, Shopify, and Vision Critical. Wavefront, Canada’s Centre of Excellence for Wireless Commercialization, is also headquartered here.
There are approximately 101,000 technology professionals across BC. About 75,000 of those individuals work in the tech hub located in downtown Vancouver.
With more than 7,000 tech companies in the province generating $23 billion in revenue and $15 billion in GDP, it’s safe to say that this is the place where you’ll find some of the best developers in the world.
The Home of Top Tech Talent
Sure, Digi117 is located in Vancouver, but that’s not what this post is all about!
While it’s true that the city and the country attracts a wealth of talent from around the world, the education system here is also churning out tomorrow’s disrupters, innovators, tech leaders, and of course, top developers.
In fact, some of the leading universities for software development in the country, like the University of British Columbia (UBA) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) are based in the Vancouver area. British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Langara College also offer a wide range of technology programs.
Vancouver also hosts the following developer bootcamps:
These programs play a vital role in developing the technical and design skills needed to meet the demands of an industry that’s going through a period of significant acceleration.
Collectively, all these different academic institutions, enterprises, and workshops help nurture a dynamic environment that can support spinoff companies, R&D centers, research programs, broader commercial activities, and much more.
As it's a compact city, you can’t help but foster a strong spirit of mentorship and collaboration. So not only will you run into some of the best developers in the world at the coffee shop down the street, but also seasoned professionals, industry leaders, venture capitalists, CEOs, and more.
There are also several programs locally geared to cultivate a culture of innovation. For example, the BC Tech Association has a program called Corporate Innovation to future proof local businesses through a culture of innovation.
In the same vein, Innovate BC aims to support innovators of all shapes and sizes with the right tools, resources, and government funding.
While some of the best software developers on the planet are already here, you can expect to find even more in the months to come. This is because the province is extending its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) tech pilot program for another year to help startups and established tech companies recruit top tech talent from around the world.
According to Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, “British Columbia’s tech industry is growing rapidly, and tech companies need access to skilled workers to move their business forward and help grow BC’s economy… When locally skilled workers are unavailable, these changes to the PNP will help tech companies recruit and retain the international talent they need.”
At the time of writing this post, there are about 1,268 software developer vacancies in Vancouver. In comparison, San Fransisco has about 5,372 software developer jobs waiting to be filled.
So if you’re in the US and need top developers to get your product to market or scale your business, you can take advantage of the Pacific time zone, similar language and culture, and some of the best rates in North America.
The city is also well-served by Vancouver International Airport which supports hundreds of direct flights to major cities across the US. For example, flying time from Vancouver to San Francisco is approximately 2 hours 20 minutes.
Along with dedicated tax incentives, optional and affordable healthcare for employees, low labor costs, and low federal payroll taxes, you can expect much disruption to originate from Western Canada.