University of Waterloo adds $1.5B to regional GDP: study

A recent study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that the University of Waterloo has a huge financial impact on Waterloo Region and the rest of the province.
University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur says the relationship between the university and Waterloo Region is mutually beneficial because the university raises the region's GDP and the region provides jobs for new grads. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

An independent study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has concluded that for every provincial dollar invested into the University of Waterloo, the return is nine times that amount to the province.

Here are some other key highlights from the report about the university.

- The University of Waterloo puts $1.5 billion annually into the economy of Waterloo Region.

- In 2011, the university received $297 million from the Ontario government for its operations. In the same year, it generated $2.614 billion in spending in Ontario and more than $1.4 billion in labour income for the province.

- The survey showed that about half of the 720 companies in the Waterloo Region Innovation Ecosystem said UW was a key factor in their company’s start-up or ongoing operations.

- Seventy-two per cent of companies surveyed in Waterloo Region said they depend on UW graduates and students as a source of employment. Of those, 44 per cent said that Waterloo students and graduates made up more than half of their workforce.

- The university operates the biggest co-op education program in the world, with over 17,000 co-op students working for 4,500 employers.

"We thought it was about time we quantify some of our economic impact to the Region," University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Thursday. 

The report by Pricewaterhousecoopers states that the university plays "a central and critical part in anchoring the region's innovation ecosystem.

"We are very proud that it is right at the centre of this ecosystem and it is fuelling the local economy and the national economy in a very meaningful way," Hamdullahpur said. 

Hamdullahpur also noted that historically, the University of Waterloo has been an incubator for tech start-up companies in not only the Region of Waterloo, but across the province and the country. 

"I won't take a lot of credit for Google," he said. "But for BlackBerry and many others, like 720 companies only in this region, they are created because the university is here."


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