By David MacDonald B elieve it or not, but it’s been more than a year since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went viral on the internet after giving reporters an impromptu lesson in quantum computing during a visit to Waterloo University. Trudeau, who has spoken on several occasions about his intention to return to teaching in some capacity after his political career comes to an end, has since won a following from tech firms around the world and that’s good for Canadian business – particularly in Toronto. While some techies were quick to point out the holes in Trudeau’s explanation, big tech firms and startups alike south of the 49 th parallel in Washington, Oregon, and Califor- nia are inspired – and perhaps a bit on the rebellious side after a heated US presidential campaign that saw Donald Trump flout many of the progressive social conventions valued in Silicon Valley and beyond. One of America’s fastest growing public software firms, Okta Inc., recently opened a small satellite office in Toronto – on King Street West no less – because, quite frankly, it’s close to the watering hole. Okta’s vice president of global workplace services Armen Vartanian told Bloomberg that “with respect to the talent supply that’s there, this is effectively a no-brainer for us,” referring to graduates and prospective grad- uates from the University of Toronto and the nearby University of Waterloo.
potential tech students throughout the US, many of whom wouldn’t mind waiting out what they hope to be a one-term presidency north of the border. The University of Toronto has seen a 20% increase inUS applicants, theUniversity ofWaterloo, nearly 30%. The acceptance rates of US students have also gone up. It’s at just over 70% at U of T and 50% at WU. President Trump may want to consider building a wall along the US-Canada border to keep Silicon Valley’s finest – and future – from setting up shop and studying in The Great White North. It’s not as if Prime Minister Trudeau has adopted an insid- ious open-border policy geared toward attracting every potential Steve Wozniak and making expatriates of them, but he’s definitely taking steps to strengthen Canada’s hand as a leader in innovation. When the Prime Minister spoke to the yearly assembly of state governors, which was held in Rhode Island in early July, he reiterated his willingness to modernize NAFTA and the need to “get it right.” What might strike some as a surprise, the Prime Minister is more Apprentice than he is Dragon’s Den – or Shark Tank for readers in the US. The Donald would have been impressed by a young bi-lin- gual, well-dressed Canadian businessman with a chiseled face and calm demeanour who was only willing to do business with tech firms currently growing at 10 to 20 percent, like Okta Inc. We’ll see how President Trump’s administration responds, but it’s my gut instinct that the Donald would have loved that kind of audacity. The on-fire up-and- comers that make the Prime Minister’s cut can bring-in high-skilled foreign workers to Canada in just two weeks. Source: Bloomberg
And it turns out that the watering hole, as it were, is getting bigger and fresher every day.
Apparently, some of President Trump’s policies aren’t very palatable for a growing number of
JULY 2017 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
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