The Canadian Tech Connection

Your business guide to securing a leading development partner.

Toronto Skyline Vector

This guide, written specifically for North American startups and technology companies, unpacks the reasons why Canadian cities like Toronto might be the best place to look for your ideal development partner.

Download a free PDF version of this guide.

Innovation you can bank on

In order to innovate in 2020, an increasing number of tech firms have gone looking north of the border. Our story starts with that growing business technology trend: topflight American companies, including some truly amazing startups, are increasingly “nearshoring” their application development to savvy technical firms in Canadian cities like Toronto.

Why would leading tech firms in San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Portland, Seattle, New York, and so many other cities reach out to development companies up north?

The American technology industry today has much to gain by “going Canadian.” A substantive combination of qualities and  benefits make working with Toronto’s  technical firms very attractive.

For American firms, building great in-house technical teams has never been more difficult or more expensive. In response to the skyrocketing cost of domestic talent, a high cost of living, and then a sudden shift in immigration policies, they turned to firms up north.

“The strength of Toronto’s startup eco-system is fueled by the city’s highly educated and globally connected talent pool and a unique set of support programs that foster innovation and collaboration.”

– City of Toronto

Why Toronto?

While many Canadian cities have become technology hotbeds, Toronto is the fastest-growing tech hub in North America and home to both global tech companies and countless startups alike. Enterprises like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Shopify have opened large offices in the city for many reasons, starting with scale.

Toronto is North America’s fourth biggest city after Mexico City, New York, and LA. It has flourished for over 100 years, exploding in growth and development in the last 20.

These characteristics are but some of the reasons why many companies, tech centers, and startups in the Valley look north for software development expertise.

  1. Results

  2. Quality

  3. Reliability

  4. Innovation

The city’s open and welcoming attitude contributes positively to its impressive growth. For decades, Toronto has attracted many of Canada’s best and brightest professionals—many of whom completed their post-graduate studies at one of the city’s three highly regarded universities.

Canada’s welcoming culture, combined with progressive immigration policies, has allowed it to attract a diverse population of the world’s best and brightest. This wonderful convergence of ambition, cultures, and values makes Toronto a world-class business center.

Although its size, global profile, and education system attract top talent, the quality of life and strength of the local economy spark innovation and  entrepreneurship. In fact, Toronto is just part of the much bigger Toronto – Waterloo tech corridor, home to “the second-highest startup density in the world.”

Of course, there’s no need to relocate your business to Canada or open a Toronto office to leverage its energy, creativity, and technical innovation. Simply follow the recommendations of this guide. Find a good technology development firm that champions the principles of Agile development and understands your sector.

What about the rest of Canada?
The Visual Capitalist has done an amazing job of synthesizing the reasons why American firms “nearshore”.

Read more

Toronto Stats


82,100 new tech jobs

Toronto created 82,100 new tech jobs between 2012 and 2017. That growth outpaced San Francisco (77,830) and Atlanta (34,730) during the same years. 

Source: CBRE


1/2 the operating cost

Operating costs in San Francisco are almost twice as much as they are in Toronto. For a 75,000 sq. ft. facility in San Francisco, costs are estimated at $57M. Comparable space costs only $30M to operate in Toronto.

Source: Visual Capitalist


22% increase in tech investment

Investors look north for opportunity. VC investment in Toronto firms last year rose to $1.3 billion, up from $296 million in 2013. 

Source: PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree

What to look for in a partner

Selecting the right application development partner is a huge decision and often represents a business-critical move that can make or break a venture. With so much riding on that decision, you need to mitigate risk by vetting potential partners carefully.

Unfortunately, companies that promise the world for cents on the dollar tend to do so at your expense. Offshoring your solution to low-cost vendors in far-away markets, particularly for new or complex applications, has an extremely high rate of failure. And there’s the added risk. Different legal systems and compromised security precautions can add additional complexities to already challenging projects.

What you don’t know about a vendor could hurt you. In choosing a partner with enterprise security and compliance expertise, you protect your intellectual property, data, and customer relationships without compromising your data security and privacy policies.


Choose a partner, not a vendor

Start by narrowing your search to enterprise development partners with a strong  track record. As the finance hub of Canada, Toronto is home to global banks, credit  unions, and insurance companies developing innovative financial services applications  and systems. But it doesn’t stop there. Diverse sectors, including healthcare, communications,  and resource-based businesses collaborate  with development companies in the city to drive innovation and improve their customer experience.

By choosing a Canadian partner, you benefit  from common ethics, legal structures, culture, and sensibilities. Canada and the United States share an integrated economy of trade,  resources, and supply chains. Those shared needs and values help foster the trust needed to create better project outcomes.


Look under the hood

As you build your list of potential firms, examine their most relevant and impressive  projects in your space. Look for in-market development experience most comparable  to what you (want to) build. Interview their clients. Review other applications they have built.  Understand their development process and how you  will work with them. Understand how your processes  can benefit from their expertise. Ensure that they  have proven experience working as remote teams. Many firms claim to practice Agile, and yet, many fall short of the mark.

Conversation Bubles

Check references

At a time in your business journey when delivery matters most, mitigate risk by taking closer look and doing due diligence. Ask for and call references. Speak to their customers’ CIO or CTO or  digital directors. And don’t stop there. Get details  about the implementation or application when  possible. Learn about their culture. What causes do  they support? Are they involved in their community?  Do their values align to yours? What obstacles might  you encounter when working with them?

Tech Vector

Request Agile credentials

Committed Agile practitioners adhere to proven collaboration and development  techniques to deliver better results, faster. They invest in collaboration infrastructure  and build Centers of Excellence. They gain a reputation of innovation with clients,  industry colleagues, and academia. Workflows that support continuous integration and  delivery (CI/CD) lead their thought leadership in  application development. Through adoption services, in-house technical  teams can improve and continue to use Agile development methods on future projects. This investment of time and knowledge can  lead to a cultural transformation that permeates every corner of your enterprise. This  transformation sparks innovation from within your organization where big ideas can  grow, get nurtured and piloted, and, eventually, launched.

Developer Vector

Assess their domain knowledge

Look for a partner demonstrating real domain knowledge. Sectors like finance,  healthcare, and technology have diverse stakeholders with complex technical  landscapes, especially for the uninitiated.Existing industry experience speeds up  projects and reduces risk. Go beyond their business and development experience.  Review more than their website. Talk to their clients.

The five most important things to look for

  1. Canadian development firm in a tech hub like Toronto

  2. Portfolio of projects

  3. Customer references and a healthy business culture

  4. Demonstrable Agile expertise and development practices

  5. Domain knowledge of your industry, segment, audiences

Collaborating remotely

We’ve made the case for Toronto and provided you with thoughtful criteria for selecting an application development partner. Now, let’s share some best practices on working with a partner in a “nearshore” environment.

If the unfortunate events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s the necessity to have a secure digital infrastructure in place to work from anywhere, anytime and continue to operate your business. Like many companies, you’re probably still adapting to the “new normal” of engaging remote workforces–in the field or working from home.

Collaboration Vector

What happens during a remote collaboration engagement?

Computer engineers and developers separated remotely can work together securely, scrum effectively, co-develop projects, while they learn iteratively and innovate through continuous integration. In recent years, as the demand for application development services from the United States grew, so too has the capacity for leading development firms in Toronto. We have the technology, the methodology, and the Agile expertise to ensure effective remote collaboration.

Collaboration Best Practices

Pen and Paper

Sign an NDA

Protect your intellectual property and trade secrets. Use non-disclosure agreements (NDA) before speaking openly about business strategy and product roadmaps.

Investigate vector

Date before you marry

Defer any long-term relationships by organizing your engagement into phases that allow your teams to test the waters

Tech Code Vector

Focus on Discovery

Unless you’re starting from scratch, there’s likely existing or legacy code. Your development partner should review this code as well as the tools you use and your processes as part of the discovery process.

Agile Vector

 Insist on Agile

For quantifiably superior results, work with a committed Agile practitioner with a demonstrable track record. Look for someone with multiple, successful remote Agile adoption collaborations.

Project Management

Demand strong project management

Project management can make or break any undertaking, especially when remote teams work together. Choose a partner able to elaborate on how their project management process enables success.

Technology Vector

Use modern technology

A new generation of collaboration hubs makes working together secure and easier than ever. Don’t settle for emails and conference calls. Your ideal partner should use modern technology strategically.

Connection Vector

Embrace lean startup principles

In this era of digital transformation, every company should think like a tech startup. The Lean Startup,, provides a methodology that eliminates waste and helps companies successfully build new applications.

Connection Vector

Embrace lean startup principles

In this era of digital transformation, every company should think like a tech startup. The Lean Startup,, provides a methodology that eliminates waste and helps companies successfully build new applications.

Why Intelliware?

Founded in 1990 and based in Toronto, Intelliware develops enterprise- grade software solutions that enable organizations in complex industries to achieve their business objectives and achieve substantive value.

As one of the first software development companies to adopt Agile in Canada, Intelliware has perfected a unique Agile adoption methodology that many of our corporate clients have also embraced. Read our Agile journey.

How does Nearshoring with Intelliware work? 

Intelliware and All of Us partner to shape the future of self-directed investing.

→ See Case Study

The Intelliware Approach

Tested and refined through hundreds of successful enterprise software development projects, the Intelliware Approach is how we deliver on our promise.

Discover VectorDiscover

We start with an Agile discovery process. Our delivery teams focus on developing a clear understanding of the current technology environment and our clients’ business goals. We strive to balance business, product, technology, and project objectives to map the best way forward.

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Deliver VectorDeliver

With experience in delivering hundreds of projects, we build software that delivers real business value to our clients. We believe in setting new standards for the way software is built, Delivery matters.™

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Sustain VectorSustain

After delivery, Intelliware remains committed to help you succeed over the long run.  Our co-teaming approach to the Delivery phase of your project ensures that you have the in-house capability to evolve and adapt your solution without external dependencies.

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partnership vectorPartnership

With Intelliware, you don’t just get coders who create software. You get access to a whole team that can help you in many different ways.

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The benefits of co-teaming with Intelliware 

  1. Canada’s first and most established Agile development partner

  2. Technical experts with a development team lead by certified engineers

  3. Highly experienced in finance, healthcare, technology, and startups

  4. Big picture thinking – the capacity to deliver a new technology roadmap

  5. World-class user experience design 

  6. Faster development cycles to better respond to changing needs/wants

  7. Improved collaboration, planning, and delivery

  8. Improved quality earlier in the development process

  9. Less testing effort and fewer last-minute fixes

  10. A more robust development process for continuous and predictable delivery

  11. A partner who shares your values, expectations, and passion!