YORK LINK BLOG SERIES
The future for the automotive industry is a straight line toward autonomous, connected and electric vehicle technologies. The need for finding top software developers and hardware engineers is paramount in this new highly competitive phase of the automotive industry. These employees require skills sets in the areas of software coding, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, machine learning, and sensor technologies to lead the development of the cars of the future.
Where is the R&D for these current and future automotive technologies to be used on a global scale taking place? York Region’s thriving automotive technology cluster has been quietly gaining momentum and its success is positioning the Greater Toronto Area as a global automotive innovation hub.
Traditional Automotive Companies Now Face the Challenge of Attracting a Very Different Workforce Than Needed in the Past
General Motors (GM) is tackling this opportunity with its new 700-person, 150,000 sq. ft. Canadian Software Development Center in Markham, York Region; the heart of Greater Toronto Area’s technology cluster.
GM is one of several automotive technology companies that recently expanded into York Region, including CIeNET, Lytx, DealerFX, and Autochargers. These companies have created over 1,000 new jobs and join an established cluster that already includes auto parts and technology industry leaders such as Magna, Multimatic, Autoliv, TS-Tech and more, as well as, the Canadian head offices of BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda and Volvo. These companies are located across York Region; from Vaughan, Richmond Hill, and Markham in the south to Aurora and Newmarket in the northern part of the region.
Our economic development team, working alongside local-municipal partners, is proud to facilitate the growth of the automotive technology cluster here in the region. York Region and its local cities and towns play a key role in growing this sector via direct-to-business services as well as investments in infrastructure, transit, urban growth, and community building that attracts and retains top talent from around the world.
General Motors CTC Markham: “Canada’s Largest Automotive Innovation Hub”
Finding a location that offers access to a large pool of experienced software development talent and an area that would be attractive to potential global talent played a critical role in GM’s decision to establish “Canada’s largest automotive innovation hub” in Markham.
As noted by GM’s Vice-President of Global Vehicle Subsystems, Kenneth Kelzer, at the company’s 2018 grand opening in January, General Motors “deliberately selected this site [Markham, York Region] in Canada because of its clear capacity for innovation, proven talent, great universities, and innovative partners…”
GM’s stunning Markham campus located on Warden Ave, a short distance to the new Downtown Markham, has a global mandate for software development and innovation in the areas of next-generation active safety, in-car infotainment systems, and software and controls related to GM’s development of self-driving and connected vehicles. The space was carefully designed with one key goal in mind: offering their employees an amazing experience everyday where they can collaborate and design the cars of the future.
York Region’s Economic Development team played a key role in facilitating GM’s location selection in the Greater Toronto Area and subsequent aftercare community awareness building and talent acquisition initiatives. GM’s grand opening event was streamed live on York Link’s Facebook page and can be watched in full here or you can check out the highlights recap below:
U.S.-Chinese Company CIeNET Opens Local Automotive and Mobility R&D Centre in York Region
This past March close to 100 attendees gathered at York University’s accelerator ‘YSpace’ in Downtown Markham to celebrate the announcement of CIeNET Technologies opening their Canadian Technology and Development Center. York Region’s economic development team, in collaboration with the City of Markham, worked closely with CIeNET to support them as they establish their first Canadian location.
CIeNET is a global technology service provider of technical consulting and software engineering solutions and their expansion into the Canadian market is focused on expertise in automotive infotainment software development and testing for the “connected car.” The company currently has over 30 employees and expects to reach over 100 within the next 3 years.
Other Recent Automotive Technology Investments in Toronto Area’s York Region
These are very exciting times for York Region’s automotive technology cluster. Here are a few additional recent headline-making developments in York Region, Ontario’s automotive technology cluster:
- U.S. company Lytx recently expanded into a larger R&D centre location in Markham. Lytx’s vehicle fleet video telematics solutions captured and analyzed more than 80 billion miles of driving data to better understand, predict and prevent incidents on road.
- Cleantech company Autochargers opened an electric vehicle charging station HQ and manufacturing facility in Markham, Ontario; creating up to 100 new jobs.
- Scale-up tech companies Dealer-FX and Bluewrist Inc. have recently landed significant contracts for their software related to auto dealership customer service platforms and vehicle manufacturing automation processes, respectively; they are also growing their local workforce.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gordon Scheel is a Senior Business Advisor with York Region’s Economic Strategy Team. Gordon works with local and international technology companies to expand and grow their businesses in Toronto Area’s York Region. He is passionate about telling the York Region “place making” story and why it is one of the most sought after communities in Canada to live and work. Outside of work, Gordon enjoys all things German soccer and being active outdoors through cycling or hanging out with his dog.