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Ten Reasons to Invest in Vancouver

Ten Reasons to Invest in Vancouver

Posted by Juan Gavasa on May 30, 2015

Vancouver is one of the most populated cities in North America. With nearly 2 million and half inhabitants, distributed in 22 municipalities, it features the most extensive downtown to the west of Chicago. It’s said to be the healthiest city in the world and the most comfortable and accessible for pedestrians. The city is surrounded by large protected natural spaces and it is bathed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, so the climate is far from the rigor of the Canadian winter.

Since it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver has become very popular. It has been taken as a model by other cities of the world, which see its sustainable urban growth, the adoption of clean technologies and digital innovation as a way into a more-human and well-balanced economic progress. Described as the “new tech hub” of North America, the city houses young and enterprising talent that is fostering a whole ecosystem of ideas, projects and enterprises. Vancouver is the leader in terms of digital design, entertainment industry, special effects, videogames and green economy.

1 The Fifth City of the World in Global Yield

Vancouver usually stands in the first positions of rankings that analyze the finest cities of the world to develop projects, make business or find better quality of life. Its development over the past decade has been exceptional and it has become a world benchmark because of its model of urban growth, cultural and social diversity and determined interest in betting on sustainable development. The city ranks 5th, right behind Sydney, Vienna, Zurich and Geneva, in the overall calculation of a series of indicators that assess such factors as the feasibility to make business, financial movements, sustainable development, brand reputation or habitability. There are only other three Canadian cities included in the first 50 positions: Toronto (6), Montreal (25) and Calgary (44).

Image of Vancouver’s sports port. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

2 A Green City

Vancouver stands out in terms of the promotion of eco-friendly policies in institutions and certain business spheres. Nearly 5 percent of the working population holds “green jobs”, which represents a 19 percent increase since 2010. Vancouver is considered the third greenest city of the world, following Copenhagen and San Francisco, according to “Economist Intelligence Unit”. The city is working to become a world benchmark as a promoter of “green companies”, so it has created a huge entrepreneurial development area aimed at attracting companies from every corner of earth interested in sustainable growth and clean energy. In fact, Vancouver is the first target destination for Canadian companies specialized in this sector. The city’s fiscal policies stimulate this kind of companies.

On the other hand, the University of British Columbia is an international benchmark in the research and implementation of innovations in the environmental sphere. This “living laboratory”, according to Alberto Cayuela, Associate Director of UBC’s Sustainability Initiative, is a good example of the way the city has defined environment as an economic development tool. 95 percent of the hydroelectric power capacity and clean energy of BC is in Vancouver, which was recently chosen by CNN as the healthiest city on the planet.

Sunrise at Vancouver’s sports port. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

3 Strategic Position

Vancouver’s position on the West Coast of Canada gives it great strategic value. Bryan Buggey, Business Development Director with the Vancouver Economic Commission, pointed out that “the city gives entrepreneurs from San Francisco or Los Angeles the opportunity to travel in the morning, develop a project with local studios or offices and return to their place of origin in the same day”. Another detail: going from the airport to downtown nearly takes 23 minutes. This geographic value is reflected by other indicators that shed light on the potential of Vancouver: its international airport is described as the best one in North America and it holds a privileged position within the World Top 10. Vancouver’s port is the largest one in Canada and the northwestern Pacific, the second one on the west North American coast and one of the most diversified ports in the continent. The merchandise marketed through this port is valued in 43 billion dollars a year and it directly employs 30.100 people.

Bryan Buggey, Business Development Director with the Vancouver Economic Commission. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

4 The "New Tech Hub” of North America

Bloomberg Businessweek magazine recently labeled Vancouver as the “new tech hub” of North America. The city has bet on developing an enterprising center in terms of technology, social innovation and clean technology in order to boost small and medium-sized companies, so they can work on their projects and identify investors and allies. Wavefront is another fine example; it’s a public-private initiative that fosters companies related to wireless communications and new technologies, in order to build up an ecosystem of the wireless industry, globally connected and nationally committed. The 2016 plan includes providing coverage to 150 companies that are going to generate 6.000 jobs. This will entail a 400-million boost to the GDP of the city, as explained by its CEO, James Maynard. MetaOptima is one of the successful stories that have been born under Wavefront’s umbrella. Maryam Sadeghi has developed a system that facilitates the fast detection of skin cancer by means of cellphones. A device attached to the cellphone takes a picture of the skin mark and a specialist located in any place receives the images sent by the device, so a diagnosis can be issued. “A simple image can help heal patients and save lives”, Sadeghi says.

Maryam Sadeghi, founder of MetaOptima. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

5 The Bridge between North America and Asia

Vancouver is the most Asian city out of Asia. A third of its population comes from that continent and, over the past decade, it has become one of its main identity marks. Bryan Buggey points out that this fact “has helped the city develop a well-defined personality and attract Asian talent, which is the key to the development of such sectors as videogames”. That’s the case of DeNA Studios, a Japanese company specialized in the development of videogames for social networks, which opened its Vancouver office in 2009. Kaiser Ng, Operations Director, explains that they studied the San Francisco option, “but we finally decided to come here because of the talent in town and its status as one of the main hubs of the videogame industry”. Vancouver features the fourth highest percentage of residents that were born overseas and 44 percent of its population speaks English and masters a second language, a percentage you don’t find in other Canadian cities.

Kaiser Ng, Operations Director with DeNA Studios. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

6 A Talent Factory

“Talent and new ideas can be found in diversity and youth”. That’s the opinion of Barry Po, Product Development Director with NGRAIN, a company that was founded in Vancouver back in 2000, which has developed a 3D app to facilitate medical diagnosis. The average age in this company, less than 30 years, is a fine example of the energy breathed in the vibrant enterprising ecosystem of Vancouver. Two prestigious universities and 20 post-high school centers are sources of manpower in the city, with a talent aimed at the new requirements of the digital world, entertainment industry, innovation and sustainability. Jeremy Hilton, Process Development Vice president with D-Wave Systems, a leading company in the quantic computing field, underscores that “we found in Vancouver the perfect place to develop our project due to the high professional level and synergies with universities when it comes to generating talent.”

Inside view of the main lecture theater at the Sustainability Interactive Research Center, University of British Columbia. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

7 Great Business Culture

Vancouver features one of the most diversified economies of the world, with the highest resilience. Bryan Buggey, Business Development Director with the Economic Commission of Vancouver, explains that “the city is described as one of the Top 10 ecosystems for entrepreneurs worldwide”. This classification is not an anecdote. Vancouver is the first Canadian city in terms of the attraction of Equity Fund and it has witnessed the birth of 3 out of the 4 Canadian “Unicorn” companies, those with estimated value over a billion dollars: Avigilon, Hootsuite and Slack. As the matter of fact, it’s the first Canadian city with capacity to attract hedge funds. Buggey points out that “there is a great business culture” in Vancouver and he underlines that “it’s the fastest and strongest growing economy in Canada”. James Maynard, CEO of Wavefront, the public-private company that supports enterprises of wireless innovation and new technologies, explicitly summarizes the potential of Vancouver: “it’s the perfect place to make business, live and go as a tourist.”

8 The Capital City of Digital Entertainment

Variety Magazine recently baptized Vancouver as the “Capital City of VFX (special effects) of North America”. It’s the fourth largest movie making center in the United States and Canada, and there are nearly 1.000 companies dedicated to such industries as videogame, movies, television, special effects, animation and entertainment. Only London and Los Angeles have more employees in this sector than Vancouver, which has gained momentum over the past years as an attraction spot for big projects. The city’s policies aim at attracting companies related to digital development and innovation, so it has created a line of fiscal incentives that benefit this kind of companies. Likewise, Vancouver is developing a digital strategy in order to identify the technological needs of entrepreneurs and give them solutions so they can be more competitive. Vancouver is the second city with the fastest digital connection in North America.

Vancouver is one of the most densely populated cities in North America. Its downtown is one of the largest in Canada and the United States. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

9 The Prestige of an Olympic City

Vancouver is a member of the exclusive club of cities that have hosted Olympic Games. That means that it has coped with the highest organizational and urban challenge a city can presently face. Its capacity to successfully do it was praised by the International Olympic Committee, which highlighted the quality of stages and new infrastructures, the sustainable urban development and efficient organization. When a city has gone through the challenge of organizing an edition of the Olympic Games, it’s undoubtedly ready for new goals. A study carried out by the University of British Columbia showed that hosting the sports event fostered the development of sports and culture in Canada, the inclusion and participation of native groups and minorities. According to the estimates, the Games injected 3.800 million US dollars to the local economy and boosted eco-friendly developments. In terms of marketing and brand generation, Vancouver has strengthened its position as a world-class tourism destination.

The Olympic cauldron stands as a symbol of the Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver in 2010. Picture: Juan Gavasa / PanamericanWorld

10 Canada is a Country in Constant Growth

Canada is one of the most solid economies among the member countries of the G20. Craig Wright, Chief Economist with Royal Bank of Canada, asserts that “the Canadian bank system stands out as one of the strongest on earth” and he recalls that during the global economic crisis back in 2008 “not a single Canadian bank or insurance company went bankrupt or needed rescues”. The country ranks second on the Global Risk Indicator, which assesses the economic, commercial, external and political risks of 131 countries. The main agencies of world qualification, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, gave Canada their AAA throughout the crisis, unlike other member countries of the G7. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, on its 2013-2017 forecast report for, Canada is going to be the best country to make business in the G7.

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