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Toronto plays as a crucial base for international key players such as Ubisoft, Rockstar Games, Gameloft, and Autodesk. It also acts as a center for culture and the arts. It hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and the film industry in Toronto is worth 2 billion dollars per year.

Toby Lennox, CEO of Toronto Global, explains the reason why Toronto is for business. He describes Toronto as a hub of digital media. It provides ‘active start-up scenes’, ‘low business costs compared to New York, San Francisco, and London’, ‘state-of-the-art infrastructure’, ‘world-class education facilities’, ‘variety of tech events per year’, and ‘a wide selection of co-working spaces’.

The strong growth of Toronto is supported by a generous tax policy, a friendly attitude towards immigration, and education.

Tax Incentives

There are four tax incentives animation-related companies can benefit from being based in Toronto.

  • Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit: up to a 40% tax refund on the costs of labor, marketing, and distribution.
  • OMDC Interactive Digital Media Fund: a range of programs and resources to provide financial, strategic, and research support to interactive digital media.
  • Ontario Computer Animation & Special Effect Tax Credit: 20% refundable tax credit for eligible labor expenditures.
  • Co-operative Educational Tax Credit: save 25% on salaries for students you recruit, up to $3,000 per student.

Flourished with Immigration

Toronto is home to 100,000+ new immigrants every year, and over 51% of the population of the Toronto Region is foreign born vs. 38% in New York City. In 2016, BBC reported “The Toronto Region named the most multicultural region in the world”.

Education and Digital Media Incubators

Toronto is known for its high-level education programs and offers unique opportunities through digital media incubators.

Educational programs

  • Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Applied Arts
    • Renowned animation program with successful graduates.
  • Ryerson’s Master’s of Digital Media
    • Intersection of the three areas: art & design, technology, and business & entrepreneurship.
  • Centennial College’s Digital Animation 3D program
    • Known for creating portfolio-ready digital artists.

Digital media incubators

  • Sheridan College Centre for Real-Time Production: leads to improved technology, cost effective productions, and better trained professionals.
  • Ubisoft Toronto & Sheridan College’s Screen Industries & Research Center: expertise and knowledge-sharing with students in game-related programs.
  • Ryerson University Digital Media Zone: an entrepreneur focused, digital media incubator with progressive IP policies.

In Summary: The 5 Benefits of the City

Lennox summarized the characteristics of Toronto into 5 benefits for starting a business in the city.

  • Low corporate taxes.
  • Little red tape.
  • Low risk and educated working force.
  • Economic, social, and political stability.
  • Strong government support.

Key Figures

  • The Toronto region is the 4th largest city in North America with a population of 6.4 million.
  • Two international airports connect businesses in Toronto with 200 cities in 55 countries.
  • 800k businesses in the Toronto region are generating a $317 billion economy. It is about 20% of Canada’s GDP.
  • KPMG Competitive Alternatives in 2016 reports:
    • Business cost of digital media in Toronto is lower than in New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Montreal.
    • 30.6% cost advantage over the U.S. in digital entertainment.
    • 27.7% R&D cost advantage relative to the U.S.
  • The Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (2015) shows the total number of programs in Game and Animation to be 120, with 11,438 enrollments.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk I’ll Take All the Blame via photopin (license)