Innovation Leader, a magazine and website focused on innovation in large companies, has released its 2017 list of the top North American cities for corporate innovation and R&D activity, with Toronto-Waterloo appearing at number eight.

Topping the list is San Francisco/San Jose, Calif., with Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle rounding out the top five. The list also includes Toronto, Detroit, and Minneapolis, cities that don’t always get the same recognition for being innovation hotbeds as other cities on the list.

“Our list focuses on something different than startups, entrepreneurship, or venture capital,” says Scott Kirsner, editor and co-founder of Innovation Leader. “We’re looking at the amount of research-and-development and innovation activity that big companies do in each city — whether that’s Disney and other studios developing the future of entertainment in L.A., or Ford, Uber, and Toyota working on self-driving cars in Detroit.”

The list takes into account five factors:

  1. Global 1000 companies with R&D labs or innovation centers, and their R&D investment levels
  2. Major tech companies with large partner ecosystems (such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce)
  3. Startup density, including accelerator programs, incubators, and co-working spaces
  4. The presence of top-tier research universities
  5. Conferences, trade shows, and networking events that foster interactions among corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and academic researchers.

Toronto, with its strong foundation in artificial intelligence, and help from companies like Manulife, Xerox, and TD Bank, is becoming the “Silicon Valley of Canada.”

Spring 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine

The list appears in the Spring 2017 issue of Innovation Leader magazine, out this week, as well as on