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Waterloo: a cybersecurity and technology powerhouse

With a proliferation of cyberattacks in recent years, companies and governments are investing significantly in security products that help combat threats. When it comes to the countries that are leading the charge in the cybersecurity space, Canada comes out on top. In fact, it’s been ranked the fourth largest cybersecurity hub in the world.  

Waterloo, Ontario is one of the Canadian cities at the forefront of the sector. The region is home to more than 50 cybersecurity companies working in areas such as embedded security, risk assessment and threat detection. Waterloo is also a key partner in the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, which is the second largest technology cluster in North America. It’s also where Blackberry — which is now one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms — was founded and is home to global tech leaders like McAfee and Oracle NetSuite.  


Leading the way 

In recent years, several scaling cybersecurity companies have also flourished in the Waterloo region — further cementing its status as a hub for all things cybersecurity. 

Arctic Wolf is one of the city’s remarkable success stories. A market leader in cybersecurity, the company helps small and mid-sized businesses detect and respond to cyber threats. In October 2020, it reached unicorn status with valuation of over $1 billion — and today, the company has a valuation of CA $4.3 billion. While headquartered in the US, Arctic Wolf has strong ties to Waterloo: Its entire research and development (R&D) team is based in the region, as well as its largest office by headcount. 

eSentire is another Waterloo-based company that’s pushing the industry forward. Founded in 2001 by two University of Waterloo students, the company’s software-as-a-service detects complex cyber threats that may be missed by technology alone, reducing the likelihood of business-disrupting events. With over 350 employees in its Waterloo Region headquarters, the company supports over 1,000 organizations around the world. 


A strong talent pool 

What, exactly, is it about Waterloo that creates such a vibrant ecosystem for cybersecurity companies? 

One of the many reasons that companies choose to set up shop in Waterloo is its abundance of top-notch talent. In fact, the Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) annual Scoring Tech Talent report recognized Waterloo as North America’s top emerging tech talent market in 2020. 

That’s largely thanks to its globally-renowned education institutions that provide a steady stream of graduates — like the University of Waterloo, Canada’s top technical institution and one of the world’s top 25 computer science schools. Additionally, Conestoga College and Wilfrid Laurier University offer programs focused on cybersecurity, producing graduates with over two years of relevant, real-world work experience. 

Waterloo is a hotbed of talent in cybersecurity, says Michael Morrissey, senior vice president of research and development at Arctic Wolf. We can get people who can thrive in their roles and continue to grow with the company. The region has been integral to our success.

Dynamic business events 

With a cluster of leading companies, impressive talent pool and thriving education centres, Waterloo is an optimal host destination for global cybersecurity companies’ business meetings, events and conferences.  

One of the greatest perks to selecting Waterloo as a destination is that organizations can augment speakers’ series with the brightest minds in the industry and enrich programming with localized tours. The result? Business event organizers attract more delegates, increase revenue and inspire future generations.    

“We call that 'meeting with purpose’,” adds Jennifer Eddings, director of sales with Explore Waterloo Region, pointing out that the region is well-positioned to show how it’s leading the way in cybersecurity, encryption and threat detection.  

Connected to the world 

Along with its deep expertise in cybersecurity, Waterloo is also a convenient location to reach. Waterloo Region and the surrounding area is served by the Region of Waterloo International Airport, and is easily accessed via Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in Toronto, which is less than an hour’s drive away.  

Waterloo also has exceptional conference infrastructure. There are more than 2,850 guestrooms — which includes major hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt — as well as plenty of unique venues. The region also boasts an enviable farm-to-table culinary scene, annual festivals and outdoor activities. 

 Discover more about Canada’s technology business events HERE.